As part of ongoing preparations in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin for the World Meeting of Families, the specially commissioned Icon of the Holy Family was welcomed to the diocese from Friday 27 April until Monday 7 May. The World Meeting of Families 2018 will take place from 21–26 August in Dublin on the theme, ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’.
Speaking at the Farewell Mass for the Icon, Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, said that ‘God calls us to do our best to live family life to the best of our ability. None of us come from perfect families. Let us keep our feet firmly rooted.’
Bishop Nulty welcomed the Icon of the Holy Family to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow on Friday 27 April. During the ten-day-visit, the Icon was hosted in the Cathedral of the Assumption, as well as visiting Saints Peter and Paul’s Church in Portlaoise and Saint Conleth’s Church in Newbridge.
During the visit Masses with blessings of families were celebrated in the local parishes, and primary and post-primary students from local schools were invited to visit the Icon and offer their prayer petitions for the World Meeting of Families. The Icon was also brought to visit prisoners and staff at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, Co Laois.
In his homily at the Farewell Mass for the Icon, Bishop Nulty said, ‘We gather on this the seventh day of May 2018 to bid farewell to the Icon of the World Meeting of Families that has given our diocese great graces over these past ten days. I thank Father Paul and the team here in Newbridge; Monsignor John Byrne and the team in Portlaoise and Father Ruairí O’Domhnaill and the team in Carlow for the welcome afforded to the Icon on its visit of these three prime locations in our diocese.
‘During these past ten days this Icon has been venerated by thousands of parishioners from the already mentioned parishes and their much wider hinterlands. In each visit there has been a special key moment and encounter with the Icon for young people. I thank the many schools, Primary and Post Primary who took part in these encounters. I heard great reports of the liturgy here last Friday in Saint Conleth’s.
‘There was also a very graced and special moment as the Icon was carried into the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise last Thursday afternoon as prisoners in different wings had their opportunity, if they so wished, to venerate the Icon. I thank Governor Ethel Gavin and her colleagues for making this historic encounter possible.’
He continued, ‘The Icon which leaves our Diocese today is shaped like the front porch of a house, a home. It is the work of a Romanian iconographer Mihai Cucu and the Redemptorist Sisters in Dublin. In our first reading from Acts of the Apostles we are introduced to Lydia who worked in the purple dye trade. Mihai, like Lydia has a particular expertise and gift of artistic expression. From the earliest days of the church in the Acts of the Apostles, the church was and always remains a great patron of the arts.’
Bishop Nulty said, ‘Jesus invites us to join him at table; assures us of His abundant presence as He turns water into wine at the Wedding Feast at Cana and recognises the healing so needed in family life with the raising of Jairus’ daughter. There are just 106 days now left before the World Meeting of Families is opened in every Cathedral with Evening Prayer on August 21st. Pope Francis is coming to the World Meeting to speak to us about family. Of all Popes, Pope Francis again and again emphasises that family life is complex and complicated.
‘Three years ago in Philadelphia at the last World Meeting he simply said: “sometimes in families plates can fly”. He wasn’t encouraging it but he was realistic. We might all like to count on a world with straight-forward families and relationships, but we are part of this changing age, this cultural crisis, and in the midst of it still God calls us to do our best to live family life to the best of our ability. None of us come from perfect families. Let us keep our feet firmly rooted.’
He concluded, ‘The Icon has been with us and will soon leave. Ten grace filled days. Ten days of encounter with an image in preparation for a much deeper encounter with Christ, who is Love, who is Amoris. If we simply wave off the Icon, but bring none of its impact home, we have short-changed this encounter. The Icon invites us to join Jesus at table in its centre panel. The Icon allows us to be helped by the healing hand of Christ reached out on the panel to the left and the Icon suggests only Christ can make good the simplest offering we can afford at the Wedding feast on the right. Inviting, healing and multiplying – let us trust in Him this Bank Holiday Monday!’
The Icon departed from the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin on Monday 7 May, and will now travel to the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Bishop Nulty’s full homily can be found on www.Kandle.ie.
The World Meeting of Families 2018 will take place from 21–26 August in Dublin on the theme, ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’. Pope Francis has confirmed that he will attend the World Meeting of Families during a presentation of the WMOF2018 Icon of the Holy Family in Rome on Wednesday 21 March.
For more information on WMOF2018 and the Icon of the Holy Family, please see www.worldmeeting2018.ie.