Pastoral Programme and Papal Itinerary of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families

12 Jun 2018

The Holy See Press Office has published the itinerary of the Holy Father Pope Francis for his pastoral visit to the 9th World Meeting of Families in Ireland on 25 and 26 August.  The theme for the event is Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.  Please see details of Pope Francis’ itinerary below.

Please also see the homepage of for the full Programme of the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families in the RDS in Dublin, and the Congress precedes the visit of Pope Francis.  Highlights from the Congress programme are provided below.

At a press conference this morning in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, details of the Programme of the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families 2018, and the itinerary of Pope Francis, were announced by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, President and host of WMOF2018; Archbishop Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Father Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of WMOF2018; and WMOF2018 volunteers.  Welcoming statements by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, can be found below.  

  • Apostolic journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Ireland on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin 25-26 August 2018
Saturday 25 August 2018ROMA-DUBLIN  
08:15 Departure by plane from Rome/Fiumicino for Dublin  
10:30 Arrival at Dublin International Airport  
10:45 Transfer to Áras an Uachtaráin  
11:15 Arrival at the Presidential Residence  
  WELCOME CEREMONY in front of the main entrance of the Residence  
11:30 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT in the Presidential Residence  
12:00 Transfer to Dublin Castle  
12:10 Arrival at Dublin Castle  
15:30 Arrival at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral  
  VISIT to the CATHEDRAL Greeting of the Holy Father
16:15 Transfer to the Day Centre of the Capuchin Fathers  
19:30 Arrival at Croke Park Stadium  
19:45 FESTIVAL OF FAMILIES in Croke Park Stadium Speech of the Holy Father
 Sunday 26 August 2018DUBLINO-KNOCK-DUBLINO-ROMA  
08:40 Departure by plane for Knock  
09:20 Arrival at the Airport in KnockImmediate transfer to the Shrine  
09:45 Arrival at Knock Shrine  
  VISIT to the CHAPEL of Knock Shrine  
  ANGELUS on the square in front of the Shrine Angelus of the Holy Father
10:45 Transfer to the airport in Knock  
11:10 Arrival at the airport in Knock  
11:15 Departure by plane for Dublin  
11:50 Arrival at Dublin International Airport  
  Lunch with the Papal Delegation  
14:30 Arrival at Phoenix Park  
15:00 HOLY MASS in Phoenix Park Homily of the Holy Father
  MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS in the Convent of the Dominican Sisters Speech of the Holy Father
18:30 Arrival at Dublin International Airport  
18:45 Departure by plane for Roma/Ciampino  
23:00 Arrival at the Airport of Roma/Ciampino  

Highlights from the Pastoral Programme for the 9th World Meeting of Families in Dublin from 21 to 24 August 2018 

  • Of the 200 announced speakers, 91 are lay women, 65 are lay men and 44 are Clergy/Religious.
  • The largest group are couples. This a lay-led, couples-led programme.
  • It is an international programme, with speakers from all five main continents of the world.
  • Amoris Laetitia is the guiding theme of all three days of the Pastoral Congress and of all the topics chosen.
  • This is the first WMOF to have a specific workshop on Safeguarding.
  • Other themes include:
    • The future of marriage preparation in Parishes.
    • Finding new ways of the joy of commitment and sacramental marriage in today’s culture.
    • The challenges of handing on faith in the home today.
    • Finding new language to affirm the joy, beauty and goodness of sexual love within marriage.
    • The importance of solidarity between the generations in family.
    • Exploring the impact of technology on the family.
    • Exploring the key role of the family in caring for ‘our common home’, the earth.
    • Looking at the relationship between business and the family.
    • Exploring the relationship between sport and the family.
    • What does Pope Francis mean by the ‘Throwaway Culture?’ (Address by Cardinal Tagle).
    • The link between the family and the forthcoming Synod on Vocational Discernment.
    • Looking at key challenges faced by many families today, including:
      • Homelessness
      • Addiction
      • Domestic Violence
      • Displacement as Migrants and Refugees.
      • Disability.
      • Separation and Divorce.
    • Exploring how Parishes can support those families with members who identify as LGBTI+ (presentation by James Martin SJ)
    • The joy of belonging to a family reflect in contemporary interest in our genealogies.
    • The vocation of fatherhood in today’s world.
    • There will be fun cookery demonstrations with faith and family themes.

Some additional speakers/panellists will be announced over coming weeks, particularly in the area of technology and the family and the family and sport.

  • Registrations are going extremely well with almost 30,000 already registered. This is the largest of any WMOF.
  • Of these almost 6,000 are 18 years old and under. The largest of any WMOF and the reason for an enhanced Teen & Children’s programme.
  • More than a quarter are couples aged from 29-40. Young families are clearly registering for the event.
  • Over 11,000 of those registered are international. The largest of any WMOF. 103 countries are represented.
  • People need to register soon, if they wish to attend the RDS. Organisers may have to close registration in advance of the event because of demand.
  • There are already 5,500 volunteers with one day volunteers still needed for the Mass in Phoenix Park.


  • Comments of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the launch of the programme of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families

We are here to officially announce the programme of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families together with the details of the Programme for the Family Pastoral Congress that will be held at the RDS in Dublin on the days before the visit of the Pope.

Today we launch the programme of the final stage of a process that has been underway for over two years here in Ireland and has reached out to parishes throughout the country through the Amoris pastoral programmes,

My hope is that now the World Meeting of Families – the pastoral preparation, the Pastoral Congress in the RDS and the visit of Pope Francis – will open out for families renewed inspiration, hope and healing.  

The visit of Pope Francis to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin must not be just a once off event. It comes as the Church in Ireland struggles to find a new place in Irish society and culture – a very different one from the dominant one it held in the past.

Pope Francis is above all a free man. He shows us we can live in a world where faith seems marginal and yet manage to touch hearts and challenge them to reflect on and discern those fundamental values vital for society.  What he does is to find ways in which he can win hearts for what the teaching of Jesus involves, not through imposing and judging, but through winning and attracting.

Pope Francis said to me that he considers the World Meeting of Families as a gift to the Irish Church.  His idea, however, is not that we will receive a gift to be placed in a glass-case for ourselves.  He looks on the World Meeting of Families as a gift that the Irish Church can then share with others.

Family is about love, no matter how imperfect and failing: it is about a love that enriches lives.  I am thinking about the love of spouses, the love of parents for children, the goodness with which families enrich communities.   We have great families who would never think of themselves as great: they simply do their best.  Where would any of us be without the love and generosity we received from our parents? 

I wish to sincerely thank all those in the Church in Ireland and the public authorities all of whom, in their own areas of competence, have made an enormous contribution to ensure that as many people who wish to can take part in the events.

I encourage families to take part in the global event that is World Meeting of Families.  I encourage families to take this unique opportunity to see Pope Francis where they can.  All are welcome.

  • Archbishop Michael Neary welcomes the announcement that His Holiness, Pope Francis will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock during the World Meeting of Families 2018

Pope Francis has gifted the World Meeting of Families 2018 to Dublin.  From the moment of the announcement of the Holy Father’s decision, the work of preparation began, and, thank God, it continues to gain momentum day by day, not only in Dublin but in every part of Ireland, and I welcome the official announcement from the Holy See this morning

The Church in Ireland is delighted and honoured that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families in person.

When accompanying the Irish Bishops in their visit to the Holy Father in January 2017, I availed of the opportunity to invite the Pope, in the event of his being able to visit Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, to also make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland which is located within the territory of the Archdiocese of Tuam.

I warmly welcome the announcement this morning of a papal visit to Knock which is a very appropriate link with the World Meeting of Families which takes place in Dublin on 25 and 26 August.

Pope Francis will arrive at Knock Shrine at 9.45am on Sunday, August 26 where he will circuit in the pope mobile and pray the Angelus at the Apparition Chapel before departing from Knock Shrine at 11.15am.

One of the most beautiful sights at Knock is to see families, sometimes the three generations praying and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the Shrine.  The Apparition at Knock was family apparition incorporating Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Jesus as the Lamb of God, and John as representing the extended family.

The Holy Father’s personal devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, is well known, and his visits to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major before and after his various apostolic journeys are powerfully inspirational.  It seems to me that an opportunity to visit Knock is something the Holy Father personally desires.  It will be the second time a Pope visits Knock Shrine following the historic visit of Saint Pope John Paul II on 30 September 1979 to mark centenary of the Apparition. 

Knock was considered to be a most suitable venue for the official launch, on 21 August 2017, of the unveiling of the World Meeting of Families icon, and the one-year countdown to the beginning of the World Meeting in Dublin in August 2018.

Knock Shrine has the capacity to continue the momentum generated by the World Meeting of Families, and it is a place where the fruits of the World Meeting will be nourished and blossom long after the World Meeting has concluded.


Notes for Editors

  • Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, is the custodian of the Marian Shrine at Knock. The story of Knock began on the 21 August 1879 when Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church.  This miraculous apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old.  Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and was visited by Saint Pope John Paul II as part of his 1979 apostolic pilgrimage to Ireland. Please see: ie.