Huge number of under-18s expected for conference
In a simultaneous celebration of Evening Prayer, all 26 Dioceses of Ireland participated in the official opening of the World Meeting of Families.
In Dublin, this was led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who led a festive celebration of Evening Prayer for thousands of the families assembled for the Pastoral Congress that will begin tomorrow. The theme of the Evening Prayer was “together with Christ.”
According to spokeswoman Brenda Drumm, around 37,000 participants will be attending the congress, with a surprising amount of young people. Drumm said, “We will have around 6,500 people under the age of 18, and to put that into perspective, for the last Meeting of World Families in Philadelphia, the pastoral congress was attended by 17,000 people and there was 800 under-18s.”
The celebration of Evening Prayer was distinctively Irish, with many of the prayers and hymns said in the ancient Irish tongue.
Archbishop Martin gave a brief homily during Evening Prayer, reflecting on a Scripture passage from Colossians. He reminded those assembled that as families, “You are God’s chosen race, he loves you” (cf. Colossians 3:12).
He stressed this in particular during his homily and encouraged families to recognize the love of God in their lives and then to live it out, becoming “missionaries” of the Gospel, especially by going out to the “peripheries” of society.
Before the final blessing, a pre-recorded video of Pope Francis welcomed the families. In the video, the Holy Father said, “I hope that this festival will be a source of renewed encouragement to families everywhere, especially those families that will be present in Dublin. May it remind us all of the essential place of the family in the life of society and in the building of a better future for today’s young people.”
Also present at the event were special relics of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, along with their daughter, St. Therese of Lisieux. They were selected as special patrons of the World Meeting of Families.
The World Meeting of Families will feature various speakers and events over the next three days, culminating with the visit of Pope Francis on Saturday and Sunday.