Posted On November, 13 - 2017
On Sunday 12 November, in excess of 450 people gathered in the sports complex in Charlestown, Co. Mayo for an afternoon with a difference in the Diocese of Achonry. The afternoon took the format of a celebration of families and family life as part of a tea party to mark the official launch of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in the diocese.
Individuals and groups from around the diocese hosted tables, bringing together families and friends from the 23 parishes in the Achonry diocese.
The afternoon began with those gathered viewing a short video, featuring the planning of and the events around the last World Meeting of Families which took place in Philadelphia in 2015. The video gave all gathered a great sense of what to expect and the amount of preparation that needs to be done for next year’s WMOF2018.
Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry, shared a few thoughts around his own wishes for the gathering in August 2018. He said he sees it as a central pillar in supporting family life in its very many shapes and forms. Quoting Pope Francis, he said the family is “The nearest hospital, first school and best place to grow old”.
Volunteers from WMOF2018 were on hand to invite families from the Diocese of Achonry to register for next year’s events in Dublin and to sign up as volunteers.
There were a few musical moments as part of the family gathering which included a brief workshop to teach those gathered ‘A Joy For All The Earth’ which is the official hymn for WMOF2018. The singing was led beautifully by the Father Peyton Cluster Choir.
Large screens relayed images of artwork around “family life” that had been submitted by pupils of primary and secondary schools throughout the diocese.
There was a powerful enactment of the gospel passage of the Child Jesus being lost, as a twelve year old, and the restlessness of his parents until he was found again. This served to remind us of the experience of “family” encountered by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was the performance of a play, written by Una Leavy (Charlestown) and performed by a group of children from the local primary school.
You can’t have a tea party without food and people went above and beyond what was expected. People freely shared food with one another and sampled the hospitality of other families from around the diocese.
The diocesan gathering was organised by the WMOF2018 Committee in Achonry and all those gathered agreed that enormous credit was due to everyone involved in putting together such a wonderful family afternoon. The organising committee said that Sunday’s event augurs well for what lies ahead at the WMOF2018 and for the “legacy” left behind beyond August 2018.