By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 August, 2017
The WMF2018 Icon of the Holy Family was unveiled and anointed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin during Mass on Monday in Knock basilica.
The Icon, which was written by Mihai Cucu with the assistance of the Redemptoristine nuns, will travel to the Irish Church’s 26 dioceses as part of the preparation and awareness-raising ahead of the international gathering from 21–26 August 2018.
Speaking to the media about the icon, Fr Damian McNeice explained that when the icon is closed, its two doors show the two archangels, Michael and Gabriel, communicating the protection of God.
“They carry with them the wisdom of God and the power of God and the protection of God,” he said.
When you open up the icon, the inside centrepiece shows the Holy Family who are sitting at a table “inviting us to come to their table” and share the Passover meal.
The manner in which Joseph is depicted shows him offering us Jesus, the Dublin priest explained.
Two other scenes from the Gospel which both relate to marriage and family life are also depicted – the wedding feast at Cana and the curing of Jairus’ daughter.
Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of the WMF2018 told reporters that from Monday the icon will begin its journey around each of the 26 dioceses of Ireland. The first stop will be Dublin.
“Although a lot of the events next year will take place in Dublin, this is a national event and one of the ways we are expressing that is that the icon will travel to each of the 26 dioceses of the country during the coming year,” Fr Bartlett said.
He highlighted that the icon would be accompanied by petition boxes, one for each diocese.
At Mass on Monday in Knock, these petition boxes were blessed and a representative of families from each diocese came forward and put the first family petition into the boxes.
The contemplative communities around Ireland have agreed to take these petitions from families and to pray for them during the coming year.
According to Fr Bartlett, the petition boxes will be gathered up and brought to the final Mass of WMF2018 on 26 August 2018 when “please God, Pope Francis will be with us,” the Down and Connor priest said.
The official prayer for WMF2018 was also launched and presented at Monday’s Mass, which was attended by most of the Irish bishops and scores of priests.
Fr Damian McNeice said organisers had sought to keep the language of the prayer “as simple as possible” and that it was hoped that it would be something that families could use around the table.
Official Family Prayer for World Meeting of Families 2018
God, our Father,
We are brothers and sisters in Jesus your Son,
One family, in the Spirit of your love.
Bless us with the joy of love.
Make us patient and kind,
gentle and generous,
welcoming to those in need.
Help us to live your forgiveness and peace.
Protect all families with your loving care,
Especially those for whom we now pray:
[Pause and remember family members and others by name]
Increase our faith,
Strengthen our hope,
Keep us safe in your love,
Make us always grateful for the gift of life that we share.
This we ask, through Christ our Lord,
Mary, mother and guide, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, father and protector, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.