By Ann Marie Foley - 21 March, 2018
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has announced that he will visit Ireland to attend part of the 9th World Meeting of Families in Dublin, during August 2018.
Pope Francis will arrive in Dublin on Saturday, 25th August, and will take part in the ‘Festival of Families’ in Croke Park. The Festival of Families is the faith-based cultural concert of the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) six-day programme. On Sunday 26th August, Pope Francis will be the chief celebrant at Holy Mass in the Phoenix Park and this liturgy will bring to a conclusion the WMOF 2018.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said, “On behalf of the faithful of Ireland, we warmly welcome today’s announcement, by the Holy Father himself, that he plans to visit Dublin in August for the World Meeting of Families. We are deeply honoured that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges which face families. With great anticipation we also look forward to hearing the apostolic guidance of His Holiness during his stay with us.”
WMOF 2018 organisers in Ireland have tweeted their delight at the visit stating: “Wonderful news for all preparing for the World Meeting of Families 2018! #wmof2018”
Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, welcomed the announcement by Pope Francis of his plans to visit Ireland stating,“On behalf of the Government, I welcome the announcement by Pope Francis of his intention to come to Ireland in August for the World Meeting of Families. I look forward to meeting him during his visit.”
The Taoiseach added that while it is not a formal State Visit, it will be a major event for Ireland, with a high degree of public participation and a high international profile.
The Communications Manager for the World Meeting of Families, Brenda Drumm, was with her own family in Rome when the announcement was made. On Vatican Radio she gave her reaction: “It is an announcement that we have been waiting for several weeks maybe several months.”
She added: “As someone working for WMOF, I am particularly happy that he is going to be with us. And I think he will bring so much to the event by what he says, what he does.”
She expects that the news will boost the numbers of volunteers and of families offering accommodation in their homes during the events, as well as increase registrations for the event. Before the Pope’s announcement there were over 8,000 people booked to attend. Speaking as a family she said it will mean a lot to families from at home and abroad that Pope Francis will talk to and about families, and spend time encouraging families in their mission from “sharing joy of love with each other to handing on the faith.”
Brenda’s twenty year old daughter Emma Tobin said that Pope Francis is “close to the hearts of a lot of young people because of the kind of things he talks about and is active about – things like the environment, refuges and migrants –these are all issues that are really important for people my age.” She said that while he is not young, he seems young, and that he warm and real and “so genuine” and that gets through to young people a lot. “People my age tend to forget about their faith a lot, but I think a big event like this might just remind them that faith is there,” she said.
On behalf of the Diocese of Elphin, Bishop Kevin Doran welcomed the visit stating: “From a distance, we have all seen something of his personal warmth and of his incredible capacity to put words on our experience of trying to live as Christians in the 21st century. He seems to understand that it is not always easy but, in his ministry as Pope, he has brought us a new confidence which comes, not from spin or from ideology, but from a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
The Irish Embassy at the Holy See stated: “We look forward to your visit Papa Francesco!”
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated that preparations for the WMOF in Dublin are benefiting from the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops in Rome, which discussed the role of the modern family in the world and how the Church should respond. Both synods were hosted by Pope Francis and were preceded by a worldwide consultation. Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), represents the fruit of these synods, as he reflected on the significance of the deep mutual love of spouses and on their love for their children for the good of humanity and for the stability of society.
Pope Francis’ attendance at the WMOF in August will be the second visit of a pope to Ireland. From 29th September – 1st October 1979, Saint Pope John Paul II visited Dublin, Drogheda, Clonmacnois, Galway, Knock, Maynooth, Limerick and Shannon.
Pope Francis will follow in the footsteps of the previous pope in that he will also celebrate Mass in the Phoenix Park. Full details of the papal schedule will be released at a later date, but given that it is such a short visit the Pope may not travel outside of Dublin.
For more information about the World Meeting of Families go to www.worldmeeting2018.ie