From the Emerald Isle to the Eternal City, the countdown is on to the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome, which last took place in Dublin in 2018.
The Meeting, which has as its theme, “Family love: vocation and a path to holiness”, will open on Wednesday, 22 June, with the Festival of Families in the presence of Pope Francis in the Paul VI Hall.
The Pastoral Congress will also be one of the key events which will run from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 June.
Four years ago, Pope Francis came to Ireland to pray for the families of the world. The visit saw him travel to the International Marian Shrine at Knock, as well as preside over the closing Mass of the Meeting in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
Organising a gathering on this scale requires expertise but also commitment and goodwill in order to deliver a world-class event.
Brenda Drumm is Communications Officer for the Irish Bishops Conference and was Communications Manager for the World Meeting of Families hosted by Dublin in 2018.
One of her most endearing memories of the event on home soil was seeing Mothers, Fathers, and Grandparents giving up their time in order to make sure families coming to Dublin were looked after.
“I can imagine similar scenes are happening in Rome as we speak. I’m certainly thinking of all the staff who are working to bring us another wonderful World Meeting of Families in a couple of weeks’ time,” she said.
Stressing the importance of communication for an event like this, Ms Drumm emphasised that internal communications are just as important as external communications.
Although she described traditional communication, such as email, posters and newsletters, as very important in order to promote an event, it is social, digital media, and websites that really have the ability to capture people’s attention. “That’s where conversations are happening and I think it’s important for the Church that we’re there too,” she said
Drumm went on to describe how tools such as Apps were extremely important; “the idea basically that you could have the World Meeting of Families in your pocket.”
Impact of Dublin 2018
For those who participated in the 2018 Meeting, the communications officer described the overriding feeling of joy at events such as the Pastoral Congress and the Festival of Families.
She also said the gathering “encouraged parishes to do more with families, to reach out to them beyond the walls of the church.”
Another legacy of the Dublin event, Ms Drumm highlighted, was putting a new emphasis on families.
“Families are what bring vibrancy to the Church, to the parish, and it’s sad when you look down the church and don’t see it full of families because when you have families you’ll have the grandparents there, you’ll have the Mums, the Dads, you’ll have the children, you’ll have the teenagers, and I think it really gave us a renewed sense of how important it is to nurture participation by family units in everything that we do as Church.”
As the countdown continues to this 10th World Meeting in Rome, Ireland will be well represented at the event, but for those people who can’t make it over to Italy, parishes, dioceses and lay ecclesial movements are being encouraged to make time and space available for families to watch the key events.