“Come to Dublin for the 2018 world meeting of families during which we will celebrate the beauty, the strengths, the problems and satisfactions of family life. This experience will change your life and will enrich you and your families. Come join us”. Organizations and preparations for the World Meeting of Families 2018 are in full swing. The event, guided by the theme, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”, will be held in Dublin August 21-26 2018 and will bring together world families in the Irish capital. Promotional video-clips were produced for the occasion. These include a clip available in 7 languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Gaelic and obviously English) inviting families to travel to Ireland in great numbers. “A welcoming land, known for its long Christian history”, from where throughout the centuries missionaries departed “to proclaim the joy of the Gospel worldwide.”
Every three years the Church holds the largest international world family meeting. The city of Dublin was announced as the next venue of the 2018 World Meeting of Families in 2015 by Pope Francis in Philadelphia. In the month of May of the same year a large majority of citizens of Catholic Ireland, still strongly anchored to Church values, with a Referendum approved a change in the Constitution authorizing “marriage between two people without distinction of gender.”
“Despite the many difficulties – Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of Ireland, said in Philadelphia – the family remains at the centre of the faith and plays an important role in this Country.”
The world meeting of families will not be an event imposed by Rome. Ireland –assured Fr. Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of the World Meeting of Families, in a recent address to Irish bishops gathered in their plenary assembly– is preparing for the meeting with world families and with the Holy Father.. On August 21 at least a family in every diocese is expected to gather at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock with the purpose of launching a national, one-year program throughout Irish parishes guided by the theme: “Amoris, Let’s talk Family, Let’s be Family”. Resources will be available through a dedicated app and videos.
The “Icon of the Holy Family”, purposely commissioned by the Organizing Committee to a Redemptorist Contemplative community and proposed to dioceses as part of their prayers for the Dublin meeting, will leave in pilgrimage from the Shrine throughout every diocese of the Country. Another initiative was promoted in Limerick where on July 13 bishop Brendan Leahy invited Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, to coordinate an academic seminar on the theme: “Amoris Laetitia a year later: status quaestionis”.
The organizing team has also launched a recruiting program of volunteers and with a request to host pilgrims in family-homes. Building on the experience of the International Eucharistic Congress, Ireland is aware that a high number of volunteers will be needed to ensure that the event takes place in conditions of full serenity. In addition to the volunteers the organizing Committee is seeking to “recruit” families, especially in Dublin and surrounding areas, willing to open the doors of their homes to pilgrims, especially to those arriving from distant areas and poor Countries. The program is called: “Host a Pilgrim / Family”. Finally, all necessary information, including registration and tickets for Irish and international pilgrims wishing to travel to Ireland to attend the event, is available on the webiste: worldmeeting2018.ie . The website will soon be available in the following languages. English, Polish, French, Italian and Spanish.
Three key-moments will characterise the World Meeting of the Families: a three-day Congress, August 22-24 2018 on the theme of the meeting; the “Festival of Families”, on the evening of August 25, a cultural celebration of music, dance, song, within a prayerful and joyful setting, and with the aid of stories given by families from different parts of the world; the celebration of the Holy Mass on August 26 thanksgiving to God, the Holy Trinity, for the gift of family and for its sanctification.
The Pope has guaranteed his presence. Francis will participate in the Festival of Families and will preside over the Holy Mass. The Archbishop of Dublin Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, pointed out that the Pope will travel to Ireland to attend the World Meeting of the Families. “Every aspect of his visit to Ireland must be seen in the light of the family.” This aspect makes his trip “particularly important.” In this respect the archbishop remembered what the Pope told him about his participation in the Meeting: “ he said it offers him an opportunity to say things that he wants to say about the family, not just to Ireland but to other parts of the world, and especially to Europe.” The archbishop added:
“No one is more aware than Pope Francis of the difficulties that families encounter”, and “how important a healthy family life is to the full realization of the human person, of men and women and especially of children.”