Mary Bushell (nee Tumelty from Tang, Co. Westmeath) and her family took centre stage at St Peter’s Square in Rome last Wednesday when Pope Francis announced that he will visit Ireland in August.

Mary and Michael and their two children Olivia (7) and Molly (5) were part of the small delegation with the Archbishop of Dublin who greeted the Holy Father to welcome him to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

Speaking after the family’s audience with Pope Francis, Mary said that it was “an unforgettable and such a beautiful experience for us. Pope Francis was incredibly kind and good humoured especially with our children. We are just an ordinary family so it was an amazing privilege for us to represent all the families of Ireland who look forward to welcoming the Pope to our country in August”.

The Pope gave each person a pair of Rosary beads. “Olivia is preparing for her First Holy Communion” her mother Mary said “and she is so delighted to have the Holy Father’s Rosary beads for her prayers as she gets ready for First Holy Communion”.

“I am proud to say I had all my sacraments in Tang Church – Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation by Bishop Smith himself and I was also married in Tang” Mary said.

Bishop Michael Smith welcomed the announcement of the Papal visit.  Having served on the organising committee of the visit of St John Paul II in 1979, the Bishop is acutely aware of the significance of this Papal visit.  “Pope Francis will bring to Ireland a message of healing” Bishop Smith told RTE.  “His visit will inspire many families in their efforts to grow in faith and I’m sure that the Pope will be enthusiastically welcomed to Ireland” he said.

Mary is a nurse manager who worked for over 17 years in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin, and is currently on leave from Tallaght Children’s Hospital.  She and her family moved to Rome in 2016.  Her husband Michael is on leave from An Garda Síochána to take up a position with the United Nations (World Food Programme).  The children Molly and Olivia are attending an English speaking school in Rome. Olivia is currently preparing for her First Holy Communion at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.