Expectations are growing that Pope Francis will confirm his visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) at his General Audience in Rome this week.
The WMOF icon is currently on its way to Rome and will be presented to the Pope, Wednesday March 21, by two Irish families: the Bushell family who are based in Rome and the Tobin family who are from Kildare.
The delegation will be led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the WMOF and Secretary General Fr Tim Bartlett.
The icon is expected to be placed beside the Pope during his address in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. An official confirmation of the Pope’s visit to Ireland is eagerly awaited by Catholic organisations keen to prepare for the long anticipated visit.
It’s also understood that State officials such as An Garda Siochana are anxious to set in place public order and safety plans for the Papal visit with only six months to go. Organisers believe that once the Pope gives the green-light volunteering, registrations and general hype for the WMOF is expected to skyrocket in Ireland and around the world.
The Tobin family comprises Mum and Dad, Brenda and Bryan and their two children Emma (20) and Cathal (13) and Grandmother Maureen Tobin from Cobh, Co. Cork.
The Bushell family comprises Mum and Dad, Mary and Michael and their two children Olivia (7) and Molly (5). The family moved to Rome in 2016.
The official icon for the WMOF was anointed by Archbishop Martin at Mass to mark the one year countdown to WMOF2018 which was held in Knock, Co. Mayo on August 21, 2017. Since then the icon has been brought from parish to parish across Ireland as part of a pilgrimage to help parishes prepare for event.