Saturday 21 July 2018

Meet the Irish families selected to present Pope Francis with an icon ahead of his Irish visit

The Tobin Family are presenting an icon to Rome to give to Pope Francis: Cathal (13) Brenda, Bryan, Grandmother Maureen and Emma (20)
The Tobin Family are presenting an icon to Rome to give to Pope Francis: Cathal (13) Brenda, Bryan, Grandmother Maureen and Emma (20)
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

TWO Irish families today presented Pope Francis with the official World Meeting of Families 2018 ‘Icon of the Holy Family’.

Yesterday, the Tobin family from Kildare began the journey to the Vatican after last minute window shopping and packing.

The family will meet with the Bushell Family, originally from Dublin but now living in Rome to present the Pope with the icon.

Brenda Tobin and her husband Bryan set off with their two children Emma (20) and Cathal (13) and Brenda’s mother-in-law Maureen Tobin from Cobh Co Cork.

“I can’t believe the entire family will meet the Holy Father. It probably won’t sink in until we’ve landed back in Ireland,” Brenda said.

Brenda’s daughter Emma said she had spent the day before on a three hour shopping spree to find the perfect outfit to wear for the Pope.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attend the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attend the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

“It was exhausting,” she said.

Emma, who is in her final year of English and Philosophy in University College Dublin believes many young people can connect with Pope Francis.

“I think people admire him for his attitudes to the environment and to refugees,” she said. "He's a Pope who really connects with young people." 

The official icon for the World Meeting of Families was anointed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Knock, Co Mayo on August 21 2017 to mark the one year countdown to WMOF2018.

Since then the icon has been brought from parish to parish across Ireland as part of a pilgrimage to help parishes prepare for WMOF2018.

Grandmother Maureen saw the icon when it was brought to her church in Cobh and “never dreamt” she’d be bringing it to the Vatican.

The official icon for the World Meeting of Families was anointed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Knock, Co Mayo on August 21 2017
The official icon for the World Meeting of Families was anointed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in Knock, Co Mayo on August 21 2017

“Not in a million years,” she said. “It is such an honour and so special."

"I remember when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland - I couldn't go to Dublin as I had young children at the time but we watched him on TV for days on end so this means so much to me," she added.

The other family selected to meet the Pope are the Bushells who moved to Rome in 2016.

Michael and Mary, who are married for the past 10 years, have two children Olivia (7) and Molly (5).

Michael is currently on leave from An Garda Síochána to take up a position with the United Nations (World Food Programme).  Mary is a nurse manager who worked for more than 17 years in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin, and is currently on leave from Tallaght Children’s Hospital.

Ireland will host the next World Meeting of Families in August 2018, guided by the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.

Held every three years, this major international event brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of the Church.

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