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“I am thinking of a lot of families who are struggling at this time and I am praying for them today” – Archbishop Eamon Martin

  • Irish delegates join Pope Francis to open the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome and hear testimonies from families

Celebrated in the presence of Pope Francis, yesterday the Irish delegation to the 10th World Meeting of Families joined more than 2,400 participants, from 120 countries, at the ‘Festival of Families’ in Rome.  The concert style event included musical performances, testimonies from families and an address by the Pope.

Various personal testimonies were shared at the Festival of Families event which opened the WMOF.  The parents of Chiara Corbella Petrilla spoke about her witness as a young mother who passed away after a battle with cancer; delegates heard from a Ukrainian mother and daughter along with the Italian family who opened their home to them after they fled the war; from the widow of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, who was assassinated as he carried out humanitarian work; and from a couple who spoke about how love in the family can overcome many difficulties.

Pope Francis responded personally to each testimony and emphasised that every family has a mission to carry out in our world and a testimony to give.  The Holy Father then called on families to stop and listen and to allow themselves to be changed by God so that they in turn can change the world and make it home for all those who need to feel welcomed and accepted, and for all those who need to encounter Christ.

Speaking from Rome after the Festival of Families, Archbishop Eamon Martin, who is leading the Irish delegation, said, “It was very moving to hear the testimony of the various families, just sharing their own real stories of their daily lives.  We really got a sense of the struggles of family, the pain of family, but, also the joy of family and the tremendous commitment and dedication between parents and children which really makes family work.  I find myself really thinking of a lot of families who are struggling and just bringing them to prayer tonight and hopefully this joy of this Festival of Families will continue over the next few days here at the World Meeting of Families.”

Thirteen year old Chloe O’Sullivan from Carlow, shared her reaction, saying, “I thought the Festival of Families was really nice, especially the music.  It was lovely to see how families got to share their stories with us and with Pope Francis.  The story that I found really moving was the one shared by the Ambassador’s wife.  I will remember that for a long time.  I also loved how relaxed and easy going it was, especially when some of the really young children starting running around the stage.”

Father Timothy Bartlett of Down and Connor diocese, who served as Secretary General of the 9th World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018, said he found the family testimonies very moving, “particularly the family from Ukraine and the Italian family here who welcomed them into their home.”  Father Bartlett continued, “ I was very moved by the story of the family that came very close to breaking up permanently through divorce and yet they found a way back from that.  I think the choice of family testimonies was very typical of Pope Francis in that they were very real but behind all of them was a message of great hope.”

Today WMOF continues in Rome with a three day pastoral congress which will see 30 panels and discussions being delivered by 62 speakers from across the world.  The closing Mass will be celebrated by Pope Francis on Saturday evening, and the Angelus and ‘Mandate to Families’ by the Holy Father will be shared on Sunday morning.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
  • All families can join the celebration.  A special pastoral kit has been prepared and is available on https://www.catholicbishops.ie/ for parishes wishing to organise local online participation with WMOF in Rome.  All the events are being live streamed and can be accessed at https://www.romefamily2022.com/en/
    • the Pastoral Congress will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday 23, 24 and 25 June;
    • the closing Mass will be on the evening of Saturday 25 June; and,
    • the Angelus and ‘Mandate to Families’ from Pope Francis will be shared on the morning of Sunday 26 June.
  • Prayer for the World Meeting of Families 2022: Family Love: Vocation and Path to Holiness

Heavenly Father,

We come before You to praise You
and to thank You for the great gift of the family.

We pray to You for all families
consecrated by the Sacrament of Matrimony.

May they rediscover each day
the grace they have received,
and as small domestic Churches,
may they know how to witness to Your presence
and to the love with which Christ loves the Church.

We pray to You for all families faced with difficulty and suffering
caused by illness or circumstances of which only You know.

Sustain them and make them aware
of the path to holiness upon which You call them,
so that they might experience Your infinite mercy
and find new ways to grow in love.

We pray to You for children and young people:
may they encounter You and respond joyfully
to the vocation You have in mind for them;

We pray for parents and grandparents: may they be aware
that they are signs of the fatherhood and motherhood of God

in caring for the children who, in body and spirit, You entrust to them;
and for the experience of fraternity
that the family can give to the world.

Lord, grant that each family
might live their specific vocation to holiness in the Church
as a call to become missionary disciples,
in the service of life and peace,
in communion with our priests, religious,
and all vocations in the Church.

Bless the World Meeting of Families. Amen.

  • About the World Meeting of Families

Held every three years, the World Meeting of Families is organised by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.  WMOF is the Catholic Church’s largest international gathering of families.  Recent WMOFs were hosted in the cities of Philadelphia, USA in 2015; and in Dublin in 2018.  The first WMOF was the idea of, and originated with, Saint John Paul II in Rome over 8 and 9 October 1994.  This year’s celebration will see thirty panel discussions with 62 speakers from around the world.  The presentations will be hosted by married couples with three priests also listed on the programme.  The delegation from Ireland includes family members and is led by the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and the chair of the Council for Marriage & Family, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin.                                        

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office: Brenda Drumm in Rome +353 (0) 87 310 4444, and Lisa Sheridan in Maynooth +353 (0) 83 199 9793.

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