Over the past 18 months significant work was invested at parish and diocesan level into preparations for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis. Central to the focus was supporting and celebrating family life. Castleisland Area Pastoral Council suggested the format of a newsletter to review events and to stimulate discussion for concrete action in parishes in 2019 and beyond. There are some wonderful examples of parish actions in this 8-page newsletter. How will you as a family member / as a parish respond to the invitations to be more welcoming, more loving?
Copies are available in your parishes and can be downloaded Diocesan Newsletter Jan 2019
Videos of the WMOF Congress Presentations can be viewed by clicking the following link: https://www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/Programme/Speakers-and-Contributors
Thanks to pilgrims from Ballymacelligott for sharing the following memories of the Papal Mass: A Sunday in August 2018: “Once I had decided to attend the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park there was the usual bustle of preparations – how to get there, what to bring etc. I decided to travel with a St. John’s Parish, Tralee group and the torrential rain that morning as we set off did nothing to dampen our excitement as we headed for Dublin with a full coach. Fr. Pietre reminded us that we were all pilgrims and the multinational group of all ages settled down for a long day. While I had been well prepared for the obvious aspects of the day – the long walk, the need to bring a chair – what I was not expecting was the reflective thoughts that I had experienced. In 1979 many members of my family, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all attended the Mass in the Phoenix Park and now 40 years later many of these beloved are dead I alone was there as a representative of my family – past and present. As the day evolved – well organized, with an atmosphere of prayer and good will from both pilgrims and organizers I thought of them all and offered the day for my family past present and yet to be born. Thoughts to many to mention but to name a few: The excitement of bumping into a friend from London; the thrill of having Pope Francis within a hand’s reach (but in his Pope Mobile); the relief of finally getting to the bus after 14 km of walking that evening. Overall it was an experience that I will remember all my life. We were all there to pray, to bear witness for out faith. A faith handed down through the generations and with the grace of God to be passed on to our future generations.” Caroline Flahive, Gortnaleaha, Kielduff, Tralee.
“When I found out that I was going I was really excited. So, then came the day SUNDAY AUGUST 26th we got on the bus really early, it took a long time to get there and a long walk. I was really close to Pope Francis and took pictures of him. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it.” Labhaoise Mansfield – aged 11 years.
“When asked to write an account of our experiences of Pope Francis’ Mass in the Phoenix Park, we feared that our account would read as a list of superlatives and that the emotion of the day would be lost in the written word. Preparation for the pilgrimage began in July with the reserving of tickets and from that day forward we began the countdown to our adventure on August 26th. Despite weeks of negative media coverage and all the warnings and endless lists of “cans and cannots” we happily set off at 5 am from Castleisland; parishioners of all ages and backgrounds formed the diverse group from the deanery, all joined as one in pilgrimage. As Kerry GAA supporters we are used to walking in numbers through the streets of Dublin, alongside rival fans, in jovial and expectant mood as we wait to cheer on our respective teams in the anticipation and expectation of victory. On Sunday August 26th 2018 we again walked in large numbers, this time alongside fellow pilgrims, all in jovial mood and all on the one mission…united by our faith and belief. The sense of unity and friendship had to be experienced and lived to be believed. A sea of people walked ahead of us, around us and behind us; chats with strangers from the four corners of the globe and country helped shorten the journey…a staggering 17 km return walk!! Smiling, helpful, friendly and beautiful…as we stood before entering the Phoenix Park to take stock of our surroundings and to take a minute to appreciate what was actually happening we witnessed a scene of great beauty and simplicity. Individuals, couples, families, groups…people of all ages, some needing assistance, others offering help…all moving as one to unite as one at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. Before the arrival of Pope Francis we sat in our designated areas, talking with those beside us, sharing our stories, our food and our umbrellas! Inclement weather may have dampened our clothes but not our spirit! Excitement, happiness and sheer gladness filled our hearts as we counted our blessings to be present at such a wonderful gathering. Cynics may have scoffed at the lower than expected turnout; those of us present witnessed and were part of a community of believers sharing a great devotion and faith who will collectively work to guarantee the future of Our Church. It is now up to each and every one of us to nurture the faith in our respective parishes through how we practice and live our lives. While the road ahead of Our Church holds many challenges it will also afford us great celebrations and happiness. Sunday August 26th 2018: the most beautiful, happy, fulfilling and special day; Thank You God for the health to be part of this wonderful celebration. May we now go forth and spread the Good News.” Michael, Siobhán & Anne O’Sullivan, Ballydwyer, Ballymacelligott
“I am very glad that I went to see the Pope in the Phoenix Park. It was wonderful to see him mingling with the people from his Pope Mobile. I thought that the walk from the Red Cow was a bit long – both ways. Most of the people were fairly elderly. I was delighted that I went even though the weather was not great and the walk long. It was wonderful to see His Holiness and to talk part in the prayers.” Maurice Dunne
OUR VISIT TO THE FESTIVAL OF FAMILIES ON SATURDAY 25TH AUGUST 2018
“My mother Alice, my daughter Alicia aged 10 years, my son Jack aged 4 years and I travelled to Dublin by train on Saturday 25th August to attend the ”Festival of Families” in Croke Park. We firstly walked up to O’Connell Street to see his holiness Pope Francis pass through Dublin City. We were able to get up to the barriers so we had a very good view. It was lovely to see the large crowds of people turn out waving flags and all excited in the anticipation of the arrival of Pope Francis. We met and saw plenty of people we knew from Kerry and Wicklow. After a short while Pope Francis arrived onto O’Connell Street smiling and waving at everyone as he passed by. People were waving back at him and shouting with joy. Alicia and Jack were very excited and joined in waving and cheering. We all then walked with the large crowds of people to Croke Park. When we reached the stadium we went straight to our seats in the lower Davin Stand. The stage was directly in front of us, even though were back a bit we had a good view. There was a large crowd of people there and almost all the sets were occupied. The atmosphere was electric with everyone cheering, clapping, waving flags, doing the American wave and even some people dancing. You couldn’t but join in with the crowd as everyone was in good spirits and just happy to be there. There were many wonderful signers, dancers, musicians and performers from all over the world inkling Séan Ó Sé, The Priests, Moya Brennan, Eimear Quinn, Séan Keane, Nathan Carter, Patrick Bergin, Daniel O’Donnell, The High Hopes Choir, Celine Byrne and Andrea Bocelli to mention just a few. In particular, we loved Nathan Carter signing “Everybody Hurts” with the Holy Family Deaf Choir and the Deaf Tones, Andrea Bocelli and Celine Byrne signing “Ave Maria” which was so beautiful and the fantastic display of Irish Dancing from River-Dance and 5000 children from Dance Schools around Ireland which was performed all over the stadium. It was truly a festival of wonderful talent. There was also a number of Family Testimonies from around the world which were inspirational to say the least. In particular, the Richardson Family from Co. Meath with their 9 children and a foster child and Cuthbert Arutura who travelled to Ireland as a Migrant and is now living here as a successful businessman. The highlight of the evening was of course the arrival of his holiness Pope Francis. The stadium erupted with cheering of joy. There were some empty seats close to the pitch at the front of the Davin Stand so we moved to those seats to have a better view of Pope Francis when he was travelling around the stadium. The atmosphere was wonderful as people cheered, waved flags and just gave Pope Francis a great Irish welcome. We were very lucky we had a great view and were only about 12 feet from Pope Francis when he passed by. He was smiling broadly and waving at everyone. I recorded the precious moment on my phone and it was lovely to see Alicia and Jack so excited waving at Pope Francis. It is a memory that I will treasure for ever. After travelling around the stadium Pope Francis made a lovely address to the crowd, he is truly an inspirational man. Before the evening concluded everyone recited the Prayer for the World Meeting of Families. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime for all of us and we felt truly blessed to be there especially my mother. Thank God we were very blessed with good weather as it was a beautiful dry evening. I was so glad that I made the effort to attend this wonderful event with my family and I hope that Pope Francis will make a return visit to Ireland in the near future. Alicia now loves to say the Prayer for the World Meeting of Families with her night prayers before she goes to bed.” Martina O’Connell, Ballymacelligott