With the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF2018) fast approaching the countdown has begun as parishes make plans to celebrate the historic occasion from August 21 to 26, now just months away.
It’s been just under 40 years since a Pope has visited Ireland, and hopes are high that Pope Francis will be able to make the trip to Dublin. The Vatican is expected to confirm his attendance in the coming weeks, but all indications are that if his health maintains he will be the first Pope in Ireland in the 21st century.
The Irish Catholic will be running a weekly update on the preparations and events already taking place in each diocese across Ireland.
WMOF2018 is an opportunity for a renewal of family and Faith in the Church
Fr Arnold Rosney
“There is no family that is ideal. Plates fly in every family. There are however great families who struggle, at times heroically. The celebration of a World Meeting of Families would be hypocritical were it to be a celebration that ignored this struggle.” These words from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin rightly set the context for the World
Meeting of Families, which will take place in Dublin from August 21 to 26. The world meeting is the ninth such gathering, held every three years since it was established in 1994 by St John Paul II.
Pope Francis has chosen the city of Dublin and Ireland to host the meeting in 2018. We pray the Holy Father will have the health and strength to walk amongst us for this exciting event. And for the Church in Ireland? I believe it is a wonderful God-given opportunity to renew family and faith in the Church.
Killaloe programme of parish preparation
In preparation for the meeting Pope Francis wrote a beautiful and inspiring letter entitled ‘ Amoris Laetitia – The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World’. In nine chapters the Pope offers a series of reflections on the family: the Joy of Love in the Gospel, Experiences and Challenges of Families, Love in Marriage, Pastoral Perspectives and Journeying with Weakness.
The national preparation in Ireland has well and truly begun and I would like to acknowledge the leadership from the World Meeting Office in Dublin.
In the Killaloe diocese we established a steering group comprising of laity to see how we can support families in our parishes. The mission of the team is to build on the wonderful work already taking place, and develop it for the future in the areas of family, life, and evangelisation.
What worked well and continues to are simple initiatives tailored to families.
Events like ‘Baby Jesus Sunday’ in Advent, resources for Christmas and Holy Family, celebrating Baptisms, Confirmation and First Holy Communion Masses Recently, we prepared a Confirmation booklet for all schools and parishes focusing on the family meeting. We continue to support parishes and groups in celebrating family and Faith.
From the perspective of social media we established Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds, and every month we produce an e-newsletter with world meeting updates.
The introduction of the ‘Amoris programme’ for the Church in Ireland afforded us the opportunity to visit the clusters in the diocese, and to encourage them to engage with the online resources and the family conversation. We began by hosting a conference on the family with speakers such as Maria Steen (Iona Institute), Fr Harry Bohan, Martin Kennedy and Killaloe Youth Forum with over 150 in attendance.
We celebrated a liturgical launch in every parish celebrating our diocesan family. Since then many of our parishes have hosted family events celebrating anniversaries and significant moments and continue to do so.
In the coming months the Icon of the Holy Family will visit the diocese and reside in the parishes of Kilkee, Ennis, and Birr from July 2-12th. These are just some of the many events we have and are celebrating.
World Meeting and reality of family life
In preparing for the world event, I was struck by the different realities in our diocese.
From depopulation, to the busyness of family life, financial worries, the challenges of keeping a teacher in a school with falling pupil numbers, to the demand for entry in urban centre schools, lack of sufficient broadband, the social problems facing young people, the danger of losing the post office, or Garda station, or local doctor, and a feeling that some places are forgotten.
On the other hand, I rejoiced at the huge involvement of so many in our parishes.
Those who live their Faith through music ministry, readers and Eucharistic ministers, leadership roles, pilgrimages to Taize, Lourdes, Knock, Croagh Patrick, involvement in John Paul II awards, St Vincent de Paul, Trócaire and so much more.
And of course not forgetting our young people who bring a dynamic to parish ministry that keeps us forever young.
Therefore, if the family meeting achieves anything, I hope it will re-invent and reinvigorate what it means to be community in Killaloe. If community is anything it’s family, and the local Church has a very important part to play in this task.
A Church that offers a message of hope and life to our families who gather with us on a Sunday and are looking for something more than the world is offering.
We have not just a good news story to share, we have a great news story to share for ourselves and another. To be with the sheep and smell like them, to walk with the story of family, to share the joys and hopes, the trials and tribulations. To point out that God walks with each of us in our stories.
I believe this message is central to the celebration of the World Meeting of Families 2018 and is offered to our Christian communities from the beautiful Loop Head Peninsula across the Shannon to the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Offaly. I encourage you to be part of this exciting journey for our families. Come and see!
Fr Arnold Rosney is Killaloe Diocesan Director for the World Meeting of Families 2018. Twitter @KillaloeDiocese, email: WMOF2018@killaloediocese.ie
Please contact World Meeting of Families correspondent Chai Brady with photos, news or articles relating to your parish or diocese’s WMOF2018 preparations and events for inclusion in the weekly update: e-mail email@example.com, or call at 01-6874020, or Tweet to @ChaiBradyIC