Church event to set record for visitors
Ireland is set to break records for the biggest number of international visitors at the World Meeting of Families in August.
More than 10,000 people are flying into Ireland for the global event in Dublin which will end with Pope Francis celebrating Mass in the Phoenix Park.
The event is held in a different city every three years, and already the number of foreign participants indicate Dublin will have the largest international dimension ever.
So far, more than half of the 14,000 registrations for the pastoral congress in the RDS in Dublin have come from abroad.
The world family event and papal visit have already secured €10m in funding and sponsorship with another €10m still to be raised to cover its costs. Three national parish collections raised around €1m each.
The costliest event to host will be the Phoenix Park Papal Mass. There were 1.2m people at the 1979 Papal Mass in the park, but even a quarter of that figure this year will be a huge challenge to organise.
Tickets for the Mass, and for the family festival to be attended by the Pope in Croke Park on the evening before the Mass, will be free.
"There are all the usual financial demands that go hand in hand with an event of this size and scale - hiring the venues, build and infrastructure, insurance, and health and safety," said World Meeting of Families communications manager Brenda Drumm.
Twelve cardinals will be at the RDS event. US cardinal Joseph Tobin will preside at a session entitled 'When Plates Fly: Pope Francis on the reality of love in family life.' Boston cardinal Sean O'Malley will host a panel discussion on safeguarding children while Chicago cardinal Blase Cupich will be a moderator on a panel on the theme 'The dignity and beauty of sexual love'.
Two women, Gabriella Gambino and Linda Ghisoni, will host separate sessions on marriage and family life.
According to Ms Drumm, the pastoral congress in the RDS "will focus on themes discussed by Pope Francis in his document on The Joy of Love in Families".
She added that themes will include the impact of technology on family life; the joys and challenges of modern family life; the vocation of fatherhood; strengthening marriage and the family, finding time for family prayer in the digital age; and the family as an agent of peace in a turbulent world.
Ms Drumm said the events will present Ireland to a global audience of tens of millions of people.
"There is already significant international media interest," she said. "Media plan to come in advance to showcase Ireland and the Irish Church.
"Significant numbers will broadcast live events across the world. There were 5,500 members of the media present in Philadelphia for the last World Meeting of Families."
There have been 2,500 people registered as volunteers, and thousands more are still needed. The national opening of the global event will take place simultaneously in the 26 Irish dioceses.