A national collection for the World Meeting of Families will be held in parishes across Ireland this coming weekend, 28 – 29 May. Pope Francis has chosen Ireland to host the 9th World Meeting of Families from 22-26 August 2018 on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.
In 2018, the 9th World Meeting of Families is expected to attract thousands of Catholic families from around the globe to Ireland. Hosting a global event of this size requires a huge amount of planning and financial outlay on behalf of the host country. Accordingly, the bishops have now established a National Finance Committee to provide advice on the financial planning for the World Meeting of Families in Ireland. There will be three national collections to support the hosting of the event, the first of which will take place this weekend, 28 and 29 May. The remaining collections will take place in 2017 and 2018.
The announcement of the date and theme for the 9th World Meeting of Families was made at a press conference in the Vatican yesterday, attended by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, and the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Pagila. Addressing the press conference Archbishop Martin said, “The 2018 World Meeting will be held in Dublin, but it is an event of the entire Church”.
Archbishop Martin said it was significant that Pope Francis chose the family as the theme of the first Synod of Bishops of his Pontificate and that he launched a new methodology for the Synod which would involve consultation with families. “Hopefully the World Meeting will be an important milestone in the application of the fruits of the Synodal process and of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Letitia”, he said.
The Dublin Meeting will be prepared for by a process of catechesis – based on Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) which was published last month – and this will take place right across the Church in Ireland during 2017 and 2018. It is hoped that something of that catechetical process will be shared with other Churches around the world, especially in Europe. Archbishop Martin said the Dublin World Meeting of Families, more than earlier Meetings, should be a world event even in its preparation.
“The World Meeting of Families in Dublin will hopefully be a festival of witness to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The vocation of Christian couples, supported by the Sacrament of Marriage, is a call to witness to that love and to experience the joy of bringing the love of Jesus to those who are troubled and challenged,” said Archbishop Martin.
It is too early to know if Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families in 2018. His programme is normally announced just a few months prior to any event. The Pope has expressed his desire to attend, and such a visit of the Pope would bring great joy to Irish Catholics and others. But the final decision will depend on many factors. Given the age of Pope Francis, a possible visit of the Pope in 2018 would inevitably have a more restricted programme than that of the Papal Visit of Pope Saint John Paul II in 1979.
The World Meeting of Families was a pastoral initiative of Saint John Paul II. Held every three years, and coordinated by the Pontifical Council for the Family, it is the largest universal gathering of Catholic families and brings together families from all over the world in faith and celebration.
For more information on the national collection and resources including frequently asked questions, please see www.catholicbishops.ie.