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Former Irish international joins celebrity line up at WMOF congress

By Susan Gately - 29 July, 2018

Former Irish rugby international, Ronan O’Gara, now coaches with the Crusaders in New Zealand.

A former Irish international rugby player will be among a host of celebrities to speak at the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families in August.

Ronan O’Gara, who is currently working as assistant coach with the Canterbury Crusaders in New Zealand, will speak on “Celebrating family and sport” on Thursday morning, 23rd August at 11.30am. Joining him on the panel will be Olive Foley, widow of Munster rugby star Anthony Foley; Aidan O’Mahony, the five time All-Ireland winning Kerry GAA player; and Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Former Manchester United player, Fr Philip Mulryne OP, will be moderator of the panel.

Other well-known lay speakers presenting at the three-day congress are Dr Mary Aiken, academic advisor at the European Cybercrime Centre, who will act as moderator on a panel discussion on “Dignity and safety in a digital age: facing a new challenge for families” on Wednesday morning. She will also speak on Thursday evening on the topic of “Turning technology to the greater good: faith, family & technology”.

Popular Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien will act as moderator on Wednesday for a panel discussion on “The family: a resource for society”. Among the panellists will be Prof Ray Kinsella, professor of banking, financial services and healthcare at UCD. On Friday 24th August, Ms O’Brien and her husband Brendan Conroy will be panellists considering the topic “Dancing to the future with hope: strengthening marriage & the family today”.

Catherine Wiley, founder of the rapidly growing Catholic Grandparents Association, will join panelists considering the topic “Handing on the faith between the generations: the role of grandparents” on the morning of Thursday 23rd August. Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing Championships will act as moderator for the panel.

Manager of Tyrone GAA, Mickey Harte, will speak on Thursday morning about “The vocation of fatherhood”. At 7pm on Thursday a panel discussion on “Care for our common home: why the family matters to the future of our planet”, will include Dr Lorna Gold, author of the new Veritas bestseller Climate Generation: awakening to our children’s future, and Trócaire’s executive director Éamonn Meehan.

On Friday, Marie Collins, a survivor of abuse, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors, and patron of The Marie Collins Foundation, will be part of a major panel discussing “Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults”. On the same day, Dragon’s Den star Norah Casey will moderate a panel on “Breaking the silence: dealing with domestic violence”. Among the panellists will be former Northern Ireland politician Dr Monica McWilliams.

Panellists from many ecclesial movements supporting marriage and family will be presenting at the congress including Couples for Christ, Marriage Encounter, The Cana Community, Teams of Our Lady, Focolare, Schoenstatt, L’Arche, Retrouvaille, Polish Encounter of Married Couples, Catholic Grandparents Association and Charismatic Renewal. Around 100 speakers will be presenting on each day of the Pastoral Congress.

Perhaps the quirkiest presentation will come from priest and chef, Fr Leo Patalinghug. Fr Patalinghug, from the Philippines, is the author of two books: Grace before meals: recipes and inspiration for family meals and Spicing up married life: satisfying couples’ hunger for true love. He will give cookery demonstrations and talk on faith and family themes.

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