Fr Phil's great hopes for World Meeting of Families 2018
The Holy Family Icon, blessed by Pope Francis last March in Rome, was welcomed to the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar on Friday 29 June by priests and people of the deaneries of Fore, Mullingar and Tullamore.
Describing the celebration, Fr Padraig McMahon said that "prayers were offered for all families in our parishes, for families who experience illness or any difficulties, for family members away from home. We also prayed in thanksgiving for our own families; no family is perfect but we thank God for the love that makes our families as caring and special as they are."
In his homily, Fr Phil Gaffney, Meath Diocesan Delegate for the World Meeting of Families, emphasised that the visit of Pope Francis is an opportunity for the Church to reconnect with families and parishioners who have walked away.
"We must use this occasion to reach out to families who have abandoned the Church or no longer attend for a variety of reasons" Fr Gaffney said. "We need to be a Church that goes to the peripheries of society, to those who don't listen to us at the present moment, to those families who have become disconnected in our parishes.
'So while we are all aware of the privilege that Pope Francis has assigned to the Irish Church, we are also acutely aware of the need to make use of this opportunity to reconnect with our parishioners, a real challenge for us priests."
Fr Gaffney welcomed the news that tickets for the Pope's visit were almost all applied for by people within days of them becoming available online.
"This international event of prayer, catechesis and celebration will draw people from around the globe and help to strengthen the bonds between families and promote importance of marriage and the family to all of society" he said. I have no doubt we will be inspired by the talks and testimonies of so many families from over a hundred countries".