Over 4,000 people from the 56 parishes of Kildare & Leighlin diocese descended on Punchestown racecourse on Sunday for a Family Picnic Day.
Organised as part of the diocesan preparations for the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), the ‘Picnic in Punchestown’ included music, dancing, children’s games, competitions, a petting farm and a 4km fun run around the racetrack led by Bishop Denis Nulty.
Bishop Denis told The Irish Catholic he was “trilled”, saying “to see people smiling was the highlight for me”.
“It ticked all the boxes in terms of bringing families together in an inclusive way, from all over the diocese and making sure everyone felt part of the occasion,” he said.
About 100 people from the refugee reception and orientation centre in Monasterevin attended, 30 from the direct provision centre in Newbridge and another two busloads came from the direct provision centre in Portlaoise.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, president of WMOF, attended the picnic, as well as the new papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo.
A large lorry at the racecourse enclosure acted as the stage for the afternoon event with acts such as Irish soprano Celine Byrne, Country singer Derek Ryan, the diocesan choir and Fr Liam Lawton performing throughout the afternoon. The Defence Forces, WMOF and Trócaire had displays around the grounds and members of the Kildare & Leighlin youth ministry kept children entertained with games and face painting.