The World Meeting of Families, a triennial gathering of families hosted by the Catholic Church in various parts of the world and which is due to be held in Dublin in August next year, was the main subject of discussion at the Annual Diocese of Clogher General Conference which was held at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan on Wednesday last, 18 October. The guest speaker was Fr Tim Bartlett, Secretary-General of the World Meeting of Families, who outlined the preparations that are currently underway for the world event, which, it is hoped, will also include a visit by
Pope Francis to Ireland in August next year.

Fr Bartlett was welcomed by the Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, who also paid tribute to the work being done locally in the run up to the world event by a committee headed by WMOF Diocesan Delegate, Fr Michael Daly, PP, Donaghmoyne.

In his address, Fr Bartlett outlined how Pope Francis, like St Pope John Paul II before him, sees the family as ‘the fundamental institution of our society’, noting that ‘the future of the world and of the church passes through the family’. The mission of the church, he said, must strengthen and support families today. The choice of Ireland as the venue for the World Meeting of Families was a personal one of Pope Francis, who has recently written a programmatic letter on the family called Amoris Laetitia. This letter, written in response to the recent Synod on the Family, will form the basis not only of the World Meeting of Families itself, but will also form the core of a preparatory period leading up to it, involving families in every parish. In this respect, Fr Bartlett urged that the church go out to the periphery and ‘not remain in the sacristy’. This was especially so, he said, because Ireland was still very much a family-oriented society that was outward looking. ‘Pope Francis is concerned about what he terms “the loss of Christian memory” and notes that when this happened before, it was we Irish who went out to Europe to recover it. Today, Pope Francis wants to help us and to strengthen us’, he said.

The World Meeting of Families will have four elements: a period of preparation (which is ongoing presently and will be accelerated from next Spring), an opening in every diocese on 21 August next and a four-day congress in the RDS from 22-25 August, a Festival of Families in Croke Park on Saturday 25 August and the closing Mass on Sunday 26 August. The event will feature not just discussions on and celebrations of family life today, it will be an opportunity for the celebration of faith. Cutting-edge technology will also be a feature of the event.

Let’s Talk Family & Let’s Be Family

In preparation for the event, the priests of the diocese will be meeting in local groups over the coming weeks to plan the preparatory phase locally. Parishes are being asked to form core-groups of leaders and facilitators who will help deliver a programme called “Let’s Talk Family” at parish or pastoral area (groups of parishes) level. This programme is based on the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia. Entitled ‘The Joy of Love’ the programme is accompanied by resources which seek to fulfil the aims of the Share the Good News catechetical programme at parish level. It notes that ‘the parish community is the focal point of faith development in all its forms’. The programme also sees the value of a multimedia approach to faith development with adults. Facilitators will be offered training before the programme begins. The World Meeting of Families and its preparatory catechesis offers parishes an opportunity to progress their faith development work in a way that has potential to connect with the popular imagination in a manner that sustains beyond the event itself. There will also a series of practical initiatives entitled ‘Let’s Be Family’ from now until next August. Catholic schools will also feature the World Meeting of Families in various aspects of their catechetical programme over the months ahead. Further details of the programmes are available on

World Meeting of Families Icon

In addition, a special Icon for the World Meeting of Families will be travelling around the country and will be in the Diocese of Clogher from 20-27 April 2018. It will be in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan for the celebration of Confirmation on Saturday 21 April and for then in St Michael’s Church, Enniskillen for the celebration of the sacrament on the following day.

Family Petition Boxes
A unique feature of the preparatory period will be an opportunity for every family to place petitions in specially-designed boxes which will be brought to the World Meeting of Families itself. The boxes will be on tour of the parishes from the beginning of November until the Feast of St Macartan on 24 March next. Afterwards, the petitions will be brought to the houses of religious orders where the intentions will be prayed for until August. The petitions will then be brought to the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families, at which it is hoped Pope Francis will be present. A schedule for the visit of the boxes to the different parishes of the diocese has been made available (see separate post) :

There is a need for volunteers to help at the World Meeting of Families itself next August. Details can be obtained on
Special Hymn:
A specially-composed hymn for the World Meeting of Families, “A Joy for All the Earth” written and composed by Meath composer Ephrem Feeley, is also available. Parishes have been supplied with this material already and it is also available on the site.