World Meeting of Families – Day One

As the World Meeting of Families gets underway in Ireland, the Parenting Support Officer of the Diocese, Joanne White, and representatives of the Diocesan Family Life Commission take part in this gathering.  Each day Joanne will file a report on what is happening as those present currently await the arrival of Pope Francis.

World Meeting of Families 2018 – Dublin

Wednesday 22nd August

Day One of the Pastoral Congress

After a long day of traveling, exploring a little of Dublin and settling into our accommodation; the Pastoral Congress opened today. Just as with any family gathering, organised chaos and logistical nightmares resulted in stress and frustration initially but as the day progressed and we acclimatised we became emerged in the content of the congress.

The difficult thing to convey is just how humbling the world meetings are, this being my second; Catholic people of all shapes (religious & lay), sizes (individuals, families, religious communities, dioceses), cultures (Asia, Americas, Europe….) all gathered together to celebrate families. Ansti and I are lucky to be here with the CBCEW Marriage & Family Life delegation, made up of some 40 people from across England & Wales.

There are several talks and panels taking place each day and it’s difficult to decide which to attend to gain more information, understanding and resources to bring back to our diocese to support the needs of the families within our parish communities.

Today’s sessions included a panel entitled Panel 2: The Importance of Belonging: Exploring Contemporary Interest in Genealogy; moderated by Adrian Chiles, Journalist and Broadcaster with BBC, England.

“Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship, and the essence of the family, which is love” (Amoris Laetitie, 11).

The panel reflected on the importance of the communion of love in the family and its relationship to the desire to belong that is reflected in people’s growing interest in genealogy today. (Panellists: Pádraigín Clancy, Folklorist and Expert on Irish Spirituality, Ireland ;Dr Michael Egan, Irish Family History Foundation, Ireland; Rev. Dr Jeremy Corley, Lecturer in Sacred Scripture, Pontifical College, Maynooth, Ireland)

Adrian Chiles opened the panel with a humorous, if somewhat cynical, reflection on our growing obsession with wanting to know who our ancestors were and the desire to uncover a famous or noteworthy ancestor, pointing out that if we go back (if it were possible) 22 generations, given that we all have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents etc, and given the population of the world at the time, then we basically have accept that we are all related! Humour aside, he then spoke of his consideration of his descendants….. ‘will I be someone they will be proud to be related to?’

Pádraigín Clancy, gave an interesting reflection on the difference of culture and language; in Britain, in English, we tend to ask people we meet, ‘where are you from’ where as in Gaelic speaking Ireland you would ask, ‘who do you belong to’ or ‘who do you come out of’…..  this being important to the enquirer to establish your background.

The open air Mass was a fantastic ‘coming together’ experience, celebrated by Cardinal Oswald Garcias, Archbishop of Bombay, India, who in his homily reflected on the Church as a family of families and the responsibilities we all have to have a relationship with its members.


Nina Mattiello Azadeh of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales reports:

Delegates from England and Wales have had a jam packed first full day at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. Opening today, an exhibition of 200 stands from charities and groups from all over the world gave the group plenty to explore.

Cardinal Tagle’s address on “throw-away culture” was particularly moving. His direct relation to the real experiences of Families was both challenging and motivating in equal measure. Hannah from the Bishops’ Conference Office for Marriage and Family Life said “he got right to the heart of the matter. It was a highly emotional and personal exploration of what Pope Francis’ means by “throw-away culture” informed by Laudato Si and Amoris Laetitia. It is our Relationships with one another that define us and are the key to understanding God’s love for all creation.”

The group also spend time celebrity spotting. Adrian Chiles, a famous Catholic from #overtheirishsea was grateful for English support at his panel on “the importance of belonging”. Joanne from Cardiff Archdiocese said “he added a cynical and humourous reflection on our growing obsession with wanting to know who our ancestors were”. Humour aside, Joanne gained a lot from the panel. “The panel reflected on the importance of the communion of love in the family and its relationship to the desire to belong.”

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