“The World Meeting of Families in two years time will be an opportunity for the Church to reconnect with families in our communities” Archbishop Eamon Martin said on Saturday 22 October.  The Archbishop of Armagh was speaking at the launch of preparations for the World Meeting of Families, due to take place in Dublin in 2018.

Pope Francis asked the Irish Church to host this event, which it is widely expected the Pope will attend.

Representatives from the Diocese of Meath attended the preparatory conference in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.  They were present with 700 representatives from other Irish dioceses and parishes, and from abroad, as well as more than twenty organisations whose mission is to support the sacrament of marriage and offer pastoral outreach to families.

Among the couples from the Diocese of Meath taking part in the event were Antoinette and Peadar Moynihan from Kentstown parish and Oliver and Rosemarie Keating from Mullingar parish.

Bishop Michael Smith appointed Fr Philip Gaffney, Parish Priest of St Mary’s Parish, Drogheda as the Meath diocesan member of the Central Organising Committee.

Drawing on key themes from the recent teachings of Pope Francis on marriage and family life, the Dublin conference offered personal reflections on the joys and challenges of family life today, including on the experience of being a refugee family from Syria, of homelessness in Ireland and of the impact on families of various forms of addiction.  The event included prayer, audience interaction, video testimony, drama, music and singing.

What is the World Meeting of Families?

The World Meeting of Families takes place every three years, and is coordinated by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.  Established by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1992 as a pastoral initiative, its aim is to strengthen the sacred bonds of the family unit across the globe.

During a World Meeting, families come together to share experiences, to dialogue, to pray and work together to grow as individuals and as family units.  Delegates participate in discussion groups on the role of the Christian family in the Church and society, and are addressed by distinguished speakers.  The eighth and most recent World Meeting took place in Philadelphia in September 2015.