Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, has welcomed the World Meeting of Families’ Icon of the Holy Family to the diocese from 20–27 April. Over the past weekend, the icon was welcomed to the parishes of Monaghan and Enniskillen for the celebrations of Confirmation in their communities.
Speaking at the Confirmation Masses, Monsignor McGuinness reflected on the role of family in nourishing the lifelong gift of faith and spirituality and thus enabling young people to cope with the ‘complicated, confusing, challenging and sometimes even distressing’ aspects of life today.
In his homily for the Confirmation Mass in Saint Michael’s Church, Enniskillen, on Sunday 22 April, Monsignor McGuinness noted that they had all gathered as many families and also as one family – the family of faith. He pointed out that the Icon depicted the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, with an empty space at their table ‘inviting us all to share in the life of the Holy Family and to have its love reflected in the relationships within our own families’, he said. ‘The other images on the Icon – the marriage feast at Cana and the raising of the daughter of Jairus – speak to us of the presence of God in the different realities that confront people in life, and especially the joys and sorrows of family life.’
Monsignor McGuinness spoke of the importance of presents and gifts in the lives of people and how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts for a lifetime. Addressing parents, he said, ‘You, as parents, have given your children everything you can and you will always want to provide them with the best of everything. You also can give them gifts that will last their whole lives – gifts of courage, confidence, self-esteem and the strength to cope with the challenges that will face them in the future.’
‘For young people today, life can be very complicated, confusing, challenging and sometimes even distressing. For some, this can be overwhelming, in some cases tragically so.
He continued, ‘What will help and support young people is the resilience that comes from a strong sense of their spiritual selves. For many of us, this comes from our own faith. At times of need we find support, courage and comfort from prayer. In difficult or disheartening situations faith and prayer can help us to cope.
‘And so, I encourage you as parents to help your children to grow spiritually – help them to pray by your own prayer and by making your home a place where prayer and faith are valued.’
He concluded, ‘It is our prayer for these young people today that they, as children of God the loving Father, and brothers and sisters of Jesus, will be guarded, guided and protected by the grace of God’s Spirit and kept always in his loving care.’
The Icon of the Holy Family will depart from Clogher diocese tomorrow to continue its jorney across Ireland. It will return to the Diocese of Clogher in July when it completes its tour at Lough Derg. For more information on the tour of the Icon, see www.worldmeeting2018.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, please see www.worldmeeting2018.ie.