News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
by Tony and Pat Banks
With great excitement, we flew into Dublin to take part in the ‘World Meeting of Families’. From Tuesday’s opening ceremony, and throughout the next three days, themes taken from ‘Amoris Laetitia’ looked at love, faith and hope in the family.
The weekend, of the Pope’s visit, expressed the family celebrating with joy and giving joy to the world. And so, we joined families from 134 countries for a joyful, informative and prayerful week.
We were offered, an outstanding array of subjects and speakers from around the world, there were seven or eight choices in each of the morning and evening sessions and a full programme for children, teenagers and young adults in separate villages. Apart from the themes explored in ‘Amoris Laetitia’, there were added talks on bioethics, caring for our common home (‘Laudato Si’), and even genealogy.
During afternoons in ‘The Family Arena’ we heard talks, testimonies, music and dramas from the speakers and the children and teenagers present, each afternoon ended with a celebration of the Eucharist with thousands of families.
There were many highlights but the very first talk we attended on ‘celebrating family in the Judeo-Christian tradition’, included the Chief Rabbi of Dublin. As he talked of the Friday night dinner, welcoming in the Sabbath, we felt challenged to witness a revival of the family lunch or dinner after celebrating Mass on a Sunday.
On Thursday, we listened to Cardinal Vincent Nichols speak on ‘Support and preparation for Marriage in the light of ‘Amoris Laetitia’. Friday evening concluded with a special launch of the ‘Alliance of Catholic Marriage Organisations in England’, supported by the Cardinal.
But the Pope’s challenge to seek out those marginalised in our society was not forgotten. We listened to a heart-warming talk from a young gay man who was part of the LGBT community welcomed and integrated into the Jesuit Parish in Farm Street, London.
On Saturday, we joined a crowd of nearly 70,000 people at Croke Park for the Festival of Families. It was a magnificent two-hour extravaganza of music, song and dance with intervals of heart-warming testimonies from families who had supported one another and their faith through the most difficult of times.
On Sunday, as the rain fell, and the wind blew, nothing could dampen the spirits of those who waited many hours for the Pope’s arrival in Phoenix Park. We were entertained by artists on the large screens, along with views of Pope Francis in Knock. Our early arrival meant we were standing by the barrier, only feet from the ‘Popemobile’, cheering and waving as Pope Francis went by.
It was a beautiful Mass made very moving by the Pope’s Penitential Rite, as he expressed the church’s sorrow and shame for the failing of its people in Ireland. Our thoughts joined his in prayer for the many abused children and mothers. His voice was especially stern as he prayed for those young mothers who had been told that to seek out their children was a mortal sin. ‘This was not a mortal sin’, said the Pope.
Too soon, the day and WMOF came to an end, but the place of the next meeting was announced: Rome 2021. We hope we will be there.