Posted On August, 22 - 2018
HOMILY BY MONSIGNOR JOSEPH McGUINNESS,
SOLEMN EVENING PRAYER
for the the Opening of the World Meeting of Families
St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan
21 August 2018
My Dear Friends,
This evening, across the whole island of Ireland, people are gathering in churches and cathedrals to celebrate with joy the opening of the World Meeting of Families. In our celebration in this Cathedral of our Patron, St Macartan, we come together as the faith family of the parishes of Monaghan and Rackwallace and Tyholland, but we are conscious also that Macartan is the Patron of the whole family of believers in our Diocese of Clogher. The prayer we offer is united with the prayers of all in our Diocese and our country.
The Church is made up of many families of faith. Each Christian home is itself a church in miniature, and from all our homes are built up our parish communities and our local diocesan churches. Together they all form the one great family of God which is the Church itself, with God as our Father, Jesus as our Brother, and Mary as the Mother who cares for and intercedes for us all.
But for each of us the word family also conjures up something intensely personal. Family, in many ways, makes us who we are. Our fathers and mothers cause us to be, and our families influence who we become. Family provides us with both nature and nurture. If the gift of life itself is sacred beyond price, so also the gifts of family – faith, love, support, care, loyalty, tenderness, understanding and acceptance – are of immeasurable value. It is these gifts which we celebrate this evening and which will be celebrated with great joy in the wonderful international gathering of families in Dublin over the next few days.
While we celebrate the joys of family life, we will also reflect on the challenges and struggles that families often have to face and to endure. If family is a place where we are the most loved, supported and accepted, it can also be the where we are most deeply hurt, rejected and disappointed. The wounds of families can be the slowest to heal, and the divisions in families the hardest to mend.
And so our prayer this evening is both a song of thanks for the gifts of families, and a plea for healing for the pains of families. We are mindful of our own need to forgive and to be forgiven; of the call to each of us to reach out to mend what is broken. We also pray for all who need healing from hurts caused and relationships damaged. We keep in our prayers families that are afflicted by the scourge of addiction, the desperation of homelessness and the despair of poverty and neglect. We hold in our hearts families who are burdened by illness or the pain of grief and loss. We renew our commitment to our own families and to the support of families in need.
This evening we also give thanks for the generous love of those who create loving families through adoption and fostering, and all who work in social care for the service and support of families in crisis. We pray that all who hold positions of power in our communities and our State will be mindful of their responsibility to nurture and support family life, for in families are forged the bonds of love and duty, and the values which make us a caring, healthy and happy society.
Family is a wonderful gift, an extraordinary grace. In the love of family is reflected the love of God; the joy of family life mirrors the joy of the home of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. As a Church we are in more need than ever of looking to our loving and faithful families for a living Gospel of Joy, and learning from them ways of living the Gospel of Jesus in a rich and authentic way.
In a few days we will welcome with joy Pope Francis, whom we call with respect and affection our Holy Father. May his presence with us at this great and joyful celebration of family be one of the many blessings that these days bring to each one of us and the families that we love.
Notes for Editors:
- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of Co Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. It has a Catholic population of 88,000, across 37 parishes, which are served by 58 priests and 2 deacons. There are 85 churches in the diocese.
- Monsignor Joseph McGuinness is the Diocesan Administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clogher, pending the appointment of a new bishop by Pope Francis. He is also the Administrator of the Parish of Tyholland, Co Monaghan.
- Dublin has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the 9th World Meeting of Families from 21-26 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 our lives, of society and of the Church.
Whilst WMOF2018 will include exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances, events around the city, gestures of solidarity, it has at its heart the following key moments:
- Firstly, a National Opening of World Meeting of Families taking place simultaneously in the twenty-six dioceses on the island of Ireland on the evening of Tuesday 21 August;
- Secondly, from 22 to 24 August, a three-day Pastoral Congress will take place in the RDS, Dublin and will include entail a joyful and reflective programme of workshops, talks and discussions centred on the theme: “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. The Congress will also offer an engaging programme for young people to include faith and fun activities for children;
- Thirdly, a Festival of Families will be held on Saturday 25 August 2018 in Croke Park, Dublin. This will involve a cultural concert within a prayerful and joyful atmosphere, during which personal stories of faith will be shared by families, each representing the five continents. Pope Francis will be present for this event; and,
- Fourthly, the Closing Mass for WMOF2018 which will take place at the Papal Cross in the heart of the Phoenix Park in Dublin on the afternoon of Sunday 26th August. The Mass will begin at 3.00pm. This is a solemn Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday 26 August which will involve thousands of pilgrims from Ireland and around the world in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Pope Francis will be principal celebrant of this Mass.
Pope Francis will also visit Knock Shrine on the morning of Sunday 26th August to pray for families and the WMOF2018
Families from 116 countries have started to arrive to Ireland to participate in WMOF2018 Pastoral Congress, which is taking place in the RDS, Dublin, from Wednesday 22 August to Friday 24 August. WMOF2018 will welcome a record setting 37,000 participants throughout the three days, with 6,500 of participants under the age of 18 and 15,000 overseas pilgrims registered to attend.