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Star-spangled line-up for Festival of Families

By Susan Gately - 20 July, 2018

Fr Tim Bartlett and friends celebrate the launch of the Festival of Families at Croke Park. Pic by Liam McArdle

A star-spangled line-up and cast of thousands will lead a global celebration of families in Croke Park in the presence of Pope Francis on 25 August 2018.

Launching the event yesterday, organisers detailed an impressive line-up of Irish and international musical talent. The event features a cast of thousands, with community-based artists and some well-known local and international artists including Nathan Carter, The Riverdance Troupe, Dana Masters, Daniel O’Donnell, The Begley Family, The Priests, The Holy Family Deaf Choir and Deaftones, Celine Byrne, Paddy Moloney, Bridgie and Missy Collins and Moya Brennan.

As well as these artists, the cast for the Festival of Families will include an orchestra with over 50 musicians; over 700 Irish, sean nós and contemporary dancers, including 500 from Irish dance schools across the country; a 1,000-strong choir; 100 community groups; and 300 flag bearers. According to the organisers, more acts will be announced closer to the event.

Speaking at the official launch yesterday, the Secretary General for WMOF18, Fr Tim Bartlett, said a key point of the festival would be the testimonies of five families from India, Burkino Faso, Iraq, Canada and Ireland who would present the joys and challenges of family life. “They will cover a range of themes all contained in the vision of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia,” he told journalists.

Organisers say the selection of themes and artists featured in the event reflect many of the priorities in the ministry of Pope Francis including homelessness and those on the margins; migrants and refugees; care for our common home; and the importance of the family.

At the conclusion of the festival, Pope Francis will deliver his own address to families from 116 nations gathered in Croke Park.

“One of the great attractions of Pope Francis is how he himself shows how the role of Pope can be unique in bringing the Christian message into our complex world,” said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the President and Host of WMOF2018.

“He shows us that he can live in a world where faith seems marginal and yet manages to touch hearts. He finds ways in which he can win hearts for what the teaching of Jesus involves, not through imposing and judging, but through winning and attracting. That is his real talent.”

The Archbishop added: “We all have an interest in working together to identify the values that will hold our Ireland together for the future, values around family, values around justice, values about economy, values around tolerance, and values about caring.” He said that these are the questions that would be looked at during the three-day event at the RDS.

At yesterday’s launch, the stage design for the Festival of Families in Croke Park was unveiled, which will include a circle of encounter space where families will sit with Pope Francis to watch some of the presentations on stage.

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