The Pope will join the families gathered in Dublin, Ireland, on 25 and 26 of August. As of now he is the most awaited guest. Besides, writes Brenda Drumm in an article published by the Roman Observer: “The World Meeting of Families 2018 has had the personal touch of Pope Fracis from the beginning. He personally chose Ireland to host the event; he gave us the theme ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’ on which to base all our preparations; and, he also gave us The Joy of Love as the key document on which to base our programme and all the other elements of the Meeting. It was Pope Francis himself who announced to the world that he would travel to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and since that announcement on 21 March, the conversation here in Ireland has now moved on to what his visit will mean for the faithful, for families and young people, for the Church and for the Irish people.”
Repeated every three years, the event, which is promoted by the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Laity, the Family and Life, brings together families from around the world to celebrate, pray and reflect together on the importance of marriage as the foundation of personal life, of society and of the Church. The meeting will continue after the official inauguration on 21 August, with a three-day conference in which there will be diversified programs for young people and adults, with entertainment for children, all culminating in sharing experiences of faith in the presence of the Pope. Most of the events will take place in Dublin while other related events will be held in other parts of Ireland.
The numbers are flattering, says Drumm: “People’s response has been overwhelming. All the tickets for the scheduled events have already been booked for a long time: 37,000 for the pastoral congress, 77,000 for the Festival of families, 45,000 for the visit to Our Lady of Knock, 500,000 for the closing Mass. Numbers from which interesting data can be derived: families from 116 countries will arrive in Ireland, for a total of about 15,000 international participants; thousands of families will converge on Dublin from all over the country. Approximately 6,000 young people under the age of 18, and 10,000 volunteers committed to ensure the success of the Meeting. But behind the figures are the people: families from all over the world who will gather to celebrate their joys and to discuss some of the many challenges they are facing faced in a rapidly changing world.” And she continues: “Pope Francis is able to grasp perfectly the reality of family life today, with the difficulties of every day. He understands that as parents we do our best for each other each day, and for our children. He also understands that families are not perfect.”
What is the family for Pope Francis? Drumm recalls: “The nearby hospital, the first school for the children, the best home for the elderly.” And if “at times dishes can fly,” the Pope reminds us “how happier our family life would be if we only understood the importance of the words ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘excuse me.’ The Pope remains passionately convinced that the family will continue to be ‘good news’ for the world. He believes that in the often complex and disordinate life of the modern family, the grace and the love of Jesus Christ are alive in a galaxy of daily acts of kindness, tenderness, generosity and fidelity often lived out heroically amidst immense human frailty and overwhelming social challenges. In a society that is easily inclinded toward violence, the family continues to hold us to hold our lives together, along with the world itself.”