Countdown is on to the greatest show on earth

Countdown is on to the greatest show on earth



Every three years the Church brings together the largest international gathering of families in the world. Ireland will have the joy of hosting the next World Meeting of Families on behalf of Pope Francis from 21-26 August 2018.

This week the Irish Catholic newspaper is bringing you the first in a series of new monthly news columns on WMOF2018 in order to keep you up to date with important information on the event next year and on how preparations are going around Ireland and around the world.

Registration and Ticketing

Registration for the World Meeting of Families is now open. All events will require a ticket for entry. Some events are free while some are subject to a fee.

Children and young people under the age of 18 are free but they must be registered with family/group. Concessions are available for pensioners, unwaged and students over the age of 18.

Humans of World Meeting of Families 2018

You might be familiar with the phenomenon that is Humans of New YorkHumans of New York began as a photography project in 2010.  The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and to create a catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.

Somewhere along the way, the man behind the idea, Brandon Stanton, began to interview his subjects in addition to photographing them. These portraits and the captions/stories that accompany them became the subject of a vibrant blog and Facebook page which now has over twenty million followers, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.

The Humans of phenomenon began to spread and here in Ireland we now have Humans of Dublin and Humans of Longford to name just a few. In more recent months we have had Humans of New York – the Refugee Stories. This involved Brandon Stanton travelling to Jordan and Turkey to talk to 12 different Syrian refugee families from which he shared some harrowing stories.

With next year’s World Meeting of Families being hosted in Ireland, a new Facebook page has been set up to capture and catalogue family stories. The Facebook page will feature stories and anecdotes about family life, past and present, from WMOF2018 staff, volunteers, diocesan and parish participants as well as those preparing to travel to WMOF2018 from other countries. These stories will be linked by the theme of faith.

The page has gone live and can be followed on Facebook as ‘Humans of World Meeting of Families 2018’.

If you would like to be featured on the Humans of World Meeting of Families 2018 page please email

The WMOF2018 Icon of the Holy Family

The icon of the Holy Family was specially commissioned by WMOF2018, written by iconographer Mihai Cucu, and assisted by the Redemptoristine Sisters of the Monastery of St Alphonsus, Iona Road, Dublin, as part of their on-going prayer for families. The icon was unveiled and anointed on the 21 August 2017, during the launch of the one-year programme of preparation at the National Novena in Knock.

This icon takes the form of a triptych which looks, from the outside, somewhat like a house with front doors. On these outside doors, we are presented with the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who carry with them the desire of God to protect. Their heads are bowed in adoration and service of God, the Holy One. On the base is the inscription Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), the title of Pope Francis’ post-Synodal exhortation on love in the family.

When the doors of this icon are opened we see in the centre the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph seated at table, sharing a meal and sharing their faith. Their faith was celebrated in their home. It is in our home that the reality of God-with-us is communicated and passed on to future generations. Their gathering around the table is reminiscent of the Three Angels in the famous 15th century Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev. Christian Marriage is sometimes compared with the Holy Trinity, as a communion of the giving and receiving of love that is life-giving. Indeed, the family is called to be the “living icon” of the Most Holy Trinity.

Similarly to the icon above, the Holy Family have a place at their table for us. They invite us to join them. They are no strangers to the trials of family life. They themselves have been refugees, fleeing the violence of Herod. They have known great anxiety. Hence the radishes and bitter herbs of the Passover meal represent the sorrows and trials of the people of Israel in their slavery also represent for us the trials and sacrifices of patience and love experienced in every family. The presence of the unleavened bread and cup of wine on their table call to mind the Eucharist for us.

Flanking the Holy Family icon are those two Gospel narratives: the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and the Wedding Feast of Cana. These are passages in the Gospels in which we see Jesus’ deep compassion and concern for marriage and for those living with burdens in their family life.

An icon is not like a photograph, nor is it a portrait. It is an image which invites us to prayer.

The Icon has now started to travel to each diocese in Ireland to encourage reflection and prayer as part of the journey of preparations to WMOF2018. The icon is accompanied by petition boxes, where families can write their intentions and prayers. Contemplative communities around Ireland will pray for the intentions collected during the coming year.

It is our hope that the Icon will invite people to prayer while we prepare our hearts for the World Meeting of Families 2018.