World Meeting of Families – thank you!

World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit 2018
Summary and Acknowledgement from the Diocese of Cork and Ross

Three Years ago in Philadelphia Pope Francis announced that the ninth World Meeting of Families would take place in Dublin. Here in the Diocese of Cork and Ross we embraced the opportunity to be involved and just over two years ago, we formed a Diocesan Commission for the World Meeting of Families chosen from across the Diocese. The members were Nóirín Hayes, Esther Sinnott, Lynda Irwin, Adrian Rufus Fernandes, John Mangan, John McCarthy, Colm O’Brien, Sr. Karen Kent, Fr. Charles Kiely and Bishop John Buckley. We met monthly to prepare and discuss how parishes could engage locally and nationally in this international gathering. Esther Sinnott and Sr. Karen from the Commission attended the Launch of the WMOF in Dublin in October 2016. Over two years as delegate I attended monthly meetings in Portlaoise, Thurles and Dublin with the organising committee in preparation for the event.

In the beginning of 2017 we invited parish pastoral groups to respond to two questions which we posed to them. This feedback then informed our plans as we worked towards preparing a one year programme of events leading right up to the week of the World Meeting of Families.

We invited Fr Timothy Bartlett Secretary General of the World Meeting of Families to Cork to introduce people and priests from our parishes to the World Meeting of Families. Clonakilty and Blackrock Parish Centres were chosen for these events and Bishop Buckley officially launched the one year programme of preparation. The Icon was anointed and opened by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin ready to begin its pilgrimage around Ireland during the Novena in Knock in August 2017. Our diocese was represented by the Sinnott family, Sr Karen and Bishop Buckley and witnessed by many other families from our diocese.

In September the Pastoral Development Office hosted two information evenings one in Clonakilty Parish Centre and the second in the Crypt at Dennehy’s Cross both venues were packed beyond capacity. On the last Sunday in September parishes across the diocese began their preparation in various different ways which led right up to the week of the WMOF. Professor Eamonn Conway of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick was invited to our diocese in mid-October to speak at our conference in Christ the King Church in Turner’s Cross on the theme ‘Having Faith in Families’.

The Pastoral Development Office prepared a three session programme entitled Encountering Family in the Gospels which was facilitated by Sr Karen Kent in a number of parishes between September 2017 and Easter 2018.

In February 2018 the WMOF Icon was welcomed to our diocese by Bishop John Buckley. The three day event was attended by families from Cork where we prayed for families, vocations and many intentions. The Icon was then transported to Skibbereen, but after one day the ‘beast from the east snow storm’ brought an abrupt end to the Icon pilgrimage in our diocese. As a result the parish of Bandon were not able to host the Pilgrimage of the Icon, however we commissioned a mini version of the Icon for the last weekend of March to allow people to come, pray and place their petitions in the prayer box. All prayer petitions were sent to the Poor Clare Sisters on College Road, with our Mini WMOF Icon and Petition Box where it stayed until mid-July when all the petitions were transported to Dublin and placed on the altar at the Papal Mass last Sunday.

On Wednesday 21st March it was officially announced that His Holiness Pope Francis would attend the WMOF on 25th and 26th August and from then on the Pastoral Development Office went into over-drive with enquiries about those wishing to be volunteers, those wishing to be Garda Vetted and those wishing to attend. Parishes began booking coaches to travel to the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass and making preparations for the journey.

We were given an allocation of 500 chorister places to represent our diocese in the choir and so began a series of rehearsals in Cork and Dublin – we thank Anne Roche and Joe Higgins of the Cathedral for facilitating these choir gatherings.

Negotiations with Irish Rail gave us trains that suited the times of the events in Dublin with a late train coming to Cork from Dublin at 11.15pm for those attending the Festival of Families in Croke Park – we thank both Andrew Roche and Stephen Hackett of Irish Rail for their time and commitment to us.

The summer months in the Pastoral Development Office became very busy coordinating choir members, Garda Vetting for everyone involved, inviting couples who were engaged or recently married to meet the Holy Father in the Pro Cathedral in Dublin, and inviting a family from each parish to attend the Festival of Families in Croke Park.

Every diocese in the country was asked to host the opening ceremony in their Cathedral on Tuesday 21st August beginning with the ringing of the bells in all churches from 7pm. Again lots of work had to be done in order to make this happen – this event saw the Cathedral packed to capacity with families from every parish in the diocese and each parish received a WMOF candle to bring back to their respective churches to be lit during the WMOF gathering in Dublin, the-is event was filmed by RTE and shown on the 9pm news that night.

Last week and weekend saw large numbers travel from Cork to be part of this wonderful international and historic gathering. We know many lasting memories have been created for all who attended or watched the events from home.

Finally, I would like to thank so many people who were involved in various different ways over the past three years. I would like to thank the WMOF in Clonliffe College in Dublin especially Fr Tim Bartlett, Anne Griffin and all their staff. To the many volunteers especially from our diocese who gave of their time. To our Diocesan Commission for their dedicated commitment over the past two years. To the clergy, parish assemblies/pastoral councils across the Diocese of Cork and Ross for their continuous support. To the various choirs who volunteered and who represented our diocese in Dublin, at the RDS and Phoenix Park as well as at the opening ceremony in the Cathedral of Ss Mary and Anne. To the 14 couples (engaged or recently married) who were invited to represent the diocese in the Pro Cathedral, Dublin. To the Eucharistic Ministers who distributed Holy Communion at Masses in the RDS and in the Phoenix Park. To the Cathedral Parish of Ss. Mary and Anne for hosting both the Icon Pilgrimage and Opening Ceremony especially to Canon John, Fr Paul, Fr Damian, sacristans, volunteers and staff. To the Cathedral of St Patrick in Skibbereen especially Fr Michael, Fr Chris and the Parish Assembly. To all the families, individuals and the religious from many different parishes and communities who were involved in our liturgies for the Icon pilgrimage and the Opening Ceremony. To the civic leaders who attended the ceremonies and addressed the congregation, especially Cllrs John Sheehan and Declan Hurley. To members and clergy of other Christian Churches in Cork who joined in prayer with us over the preparation year. To the Church of Christ the King in Turner’s Cross especially to Fr Billy, Fr Kerry and parishioners. To Church of the Holy Spirit at Dennehy’s Cross especially to Canon Bertie and Fr Tom. To the parish of Clonakilty especially to Monsignor Aidan, Fr Eddie, the Parish Assembly and the Parish Centre staff especially Nellie. To the parish of Blackrock especially Canon Kieran, Canon Tadhg, the Parish Assembly and Eleanor and her team at the Parish Centre. To Mother Miriam and the Sisters of the Poor Clare Monastery on College Road for their continuous support and prayers over the past two years and especially for the many prayers they prayed over the hundreds of petitions from Cork and Ross. To Irish Rail and the coach companies who transported our pilgrims safely to and from Dublin last weekend. To the media especially Jenny O’Sullivan of RTE and the Evening Echo and Irish Examiner especially Maurice Gubbins, Eoin English, Ronan Bagnall and Daragh Bermingham. To the Irish Catholic especially Greg Daly, Michael Kelly and Chai Brady for reporting and covering the many stories and events in Cork related to the WMOF 2018. To Bishop John Buckley for his complete support and involvement in the WMOF 2018 and the Diocesan staff in Redemption Road. Finally a specially thank you to Sr Karen for her complete support, energy and involvement in the WMOF over the past two years and Caitriona Grainger for her work here in the PDO over the summer in preparation for the World Meeting of Families.

I am deeply indebted and grateful to you all and pray God’s blessing on you all, and may the visit of Pope Francis have a deep impression on you and your families for many years to come.

Fr Charles Kiely
Diocesan Delegate to the World Meeting of Families 2018
Pastoral Development Office
Diocese of Cork and Ross
Parochial House, Ballyphehane, Cork