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Invite families from abroad to World Meeting of Families

By Susan Gately - 08 April, 2017

The Secretary General of the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF2018) appealed to a gathering of national representatives of marriage and family outreach movements to promote the Dublin gathering abroad.

“Those of you with international outreach, please push the World Meeting of Families with your organisation. Send links to our official video and promote participation,” Fr Tim Bartlett told a consultation meeting with representatives of 17 family outreach movements and groups last weekend.

The meeting was convened by the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Bishops’ Conference and was the first of its kind.

Fr Bartlett thanked those present for the work they were already doing, “which converges in a tapestry of God’s providence”, and he appealed to movements to rise to the responsibility which Pope Francis had given to the Church in Ireland. “If it ends up just as a week of events then we will have failed,” he said, quoting the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin. “We must build in a ‘foundational legacy’.”

Explaining that the WMOF would be based around Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), Fr Bartlett said the document affirmed the work that movements were doing and supported them in the “art of loving. This is a Kairos [decisive] moment,” he added.

At the start of the day, each group briefly presented itself. Ministries ranged from marriage preparation (Nazareth Family Institute/Accord/Engaged Encounter) to affirming the relationships of couples (Couples for Christ/Marriage Encounter/Teams of Our Lady/Encounters of Married Couples/Domestic Church) to the support of families (Focolare New Families/Cana/Community of Nazareth/Living Family/Catholic Grandparents Association) to groups praying for marriage (Love is for Life Trust/Mothers Prayers) and those caring for marriages experiencing difficulties (Retrouvaille) or broken through divorce or bereavement (Beginning Experience).

Each group had the opportunity to express the role it hoped to play in the World Meeting of Families, with most enthusiastically endorsing the roll-out of preparatory programmes and offering to get involved. Many offered hospitality and said they would spread the word of the event to their international counterparts. One group has already booked accommodation for 100 international delegates for the duration of the WMOF. Many movements offered to run workshops explaining their charisms during the August 2018 event.

Secretary General of WMOF2018, Fr Tim Bartlett

Responding to the feedback, Fr Bartlett appealed to the groups, many of which have worldwide networks, to invite members of their movements from abroad to the Dublin event, and he encouraged them to continue their own initiatives. “If you have ideas you want to run with – please run with them and keep us informed. The World Meeting of Families is all about ‘Et et’ –  ‘both and ’– not one thing or the other. We will try to share your events through our website and others may be inspired by your ideas.”

The Consultation was facilitated by Martin Kennedy and Petra Conroy from the WMOF2018 office, who brought the delegates through the timeframe of proposed preparations for WMOF. Among the concrete proposals to emerge from the day was the production of a published or digital guide explaining the work and outreach of each group.

“It was a day of experiencing the unique and very special charism of each movement and in addition their common mission, vision and service directly focused on those living the calling and vocation to the sacrament of marriage and family life,” commented Fr Peter Murphy, the Executive Secretary of the Council for Marriage and the Family.

Meanwhile, at the Marian shrine in Knock today, Archbishop Michael Neary and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will take part in a day-long event, Celebrating Family, to help families prepare for the World Meeting of Families next year. Fr Tim Bartlett and Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien will address the gathering.

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