WHAT IS IT?
The World Meeting of Families Congress is a gathering of the Roman Catholic Church that has occurred every three years since 1994. It is organised by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. This is the body responsible for promoting the pastoral care of families and protecting their rights and dignity in the Church and in Civil Society. The last one of these took place in Philadelphia when it was announced that the next one would take place in Dublin, from 22 to 26 August 2018.
It acknowledges the family as the centre of our life of faith and provides an opportunity to celebrate this. We are delighted this year it is in Ireland and in we are proud here in this diocese to have the privilege of hosting it. We are blessed in the leadership of Archbishop Diarmuid and the team he has appointed.
WHAT IS MY HOPE FOR IT?
From the beginning I have believed in the great opportunity and potential that this occasion presents. I hope it will be a real celebration. Good fun. Exciting, lively and creative. I hope it will be colourful and have a real festival feel to it.
My ongoing prayer is that it will be really swamped by families. Families out together in laughter and clearly enjoying being part of this historical event. I would love to hear people coming out of it saying well that was good craic, that was special. It has the potential to give people encouragement, to inspire. It could be a real celebration of all the wonderful things that constitute family.
It’s ultimate beauty may well be experienced in the difficult balance between hospitality and conviction. This will be found in a celebration of all that makes the Christian family the beautiful witness that it is, and yet that this be gently presented on the canvas of welcome.
WHAT IS MY FEAR ABOUT IT?
Hopefully my fear is unfounded. Hopefully we will not miss the opportunity. The Eucharistic Congress was a lovely experience but this is not the Eucharistic Congress. The key to this is family. My fear is that it will be too clerical. Cold. Elite. Exclusive.
WHY I WOULD URGE YOU TO GO?
I urge you to claim this. This is yours. Do not let anybody exclude you. You are welcome. You can shape this. This is gift. A special moment, not to be missed.
A PERSONAL REFLECTION
Imagine how narrow my welcome is if it carries the condition, ‘Before you come into my house you must agree with me on everything’. How cold a hospitality that requires you leave who you are on my doorstep! I damage myself, and you, when I deny who I am, I damage you, and myself, when I need you to deny who you are.
We can both be who we are in the dance, in the song and at the dinner. Yes, Jesus is big enough, broad enough, beautiful enough to have us all at the table.