The World Meeting of Families takes place every three years. It started in 1994, when Pope St John Paul II asked the Pontifical Council for the Family (now part of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life) to establish an international event of prayer, catechesis and celebration that would draw participants from around the globe and that would help to strengthen the bonds between families and bear witness to the crucial importance of marriage and the family to all of society.

The last meeting was in Philadelphia in September of 2015 and the theme was “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.” Previous meetings have been held in Mexico City, Valencia, Manilla, Rome and Rio de Janeiro. Dublin, Ireland, has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the next World Meeting of Families from August 21-26 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. Each day will reflect on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World” chosen by the Holy Father and will include an enriching programme for adults of keynote speakers, workshops, talks, testimonies and discussions; an engaging and exciting programme for young people as well as fun activities for children. The Congress will also include daily celebration of the Eucharist, prayerful activities, exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances.

Pope Francis will be present for the last two days of the Meeting, which will conclude with the celebration of Mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday August 26. Thousands of families and individuals from all over Ireland and the world are expected to attend. Some people may come together, others might come on their own, others as part of an organisation. Adults, youth and children are all invited to take part.

Before that, of course, we will have our own particular diocesan celebration of the Assumption at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace, Osmotherley, on Sunday August 12. Bishop John Crowley is joining us and will preach at the Mass. I am sure that you will all look forward to greeting him anew there. The Rosary begins at 2.10pm followed by Holy Mass of the Assumption at 3pm.

Let’s pray that the weather will be good to us during in August, the traditional holiday month.

Yours in blessed hope,

+ Terry