By Cian Molloy - 21 January, 2018
Every family is sacred, said Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, when welcoming the Icon of the Holy Family to his Archdiocese this weekend.
The icon was commissioned for the World Meeting of Families, which takes place in Dublin in August, and it is currently on a tour of every diocese in Ireland. The religious image is, said Dr Neary, a symbol of the values which we believe are important for family lives. We sometimes take these values for granted, but we should reflect on them, and promote them, as we prepare for WMoF2018.
“Every family shares a little piece of heaven,” said the Archbishop. “This does not mean that every family is perfect. It means that every family is sacred. It is holy and must be respected by everybody no matter what its difficulties. Every family home is a sanctuary to the members of that family, or at least it is meant to be. It is the one place in the world where they can always feel safe, secure, accepted and be themselves. Every family is precious and deserves the highest respect. It is holy ground.”
When opened up, the icon depicts three scenes from the life of Jesus: the wedding feast at Cana, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and a depiction of the Holy Family eating a meal together. Dr Neary said it was significant that Jesus worked his first miracle at a wedding, and there is a sense that ‘in every wedding Jesus works a miracle’. In relation to the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Archbishop said every parent of a seriously ill child could identify with that bible story.
Commenting on the depiction of the Holy Family, Dr Neary said, “It looks strange because they are all sitting on the same side of the table and looking out in the same direction. If you saw this in real life you would think that they are not talking to each other! The reason they are sitting like this is because they are looking out at you and me. The side of the table facing out is empty. It is an open space for you to come in and join the Holy Family. This is a beautiful thought. The Holy Family is always open to us. The scene also teaches that families are not meant to be closed in on themselves. “All families can make a contribution to their communities and to the world.”
This evening, Sunday, the icon will travel to Athenry where it will be on display from 7pm until 5pm tomorrow (Monday). Subsequently, it will be on display in the following locations in the Archdiocese:
Glenamaddy: Monday evening from 7pm to Tuesday 9pm
Carraroe: Wednesday from 10am to 8.30pm
Ballyhaunis: Thursday from 12.30pm to Friday 1pm
Westport: Friday from 3pm to Saturday 5pm
Castlebar: Saturday 6pm to Monday 1pm.
After visiting Tuam, the Icon’s tour continues in the Ferns Diocese.