Excitement building ahead of World Meeting of Families
DESPITE the widely-felt disappointment that the north has not been included in Pope Francis's itinerary for his visit to Ireland in August, parishes are still working hard to prepare for the World Meeting of Families.
The parishes in the West Belfast Pastoral Area, for example, are hosting a Family Fun Day on Saturday June 24.
The day will see families from the six parishes - St Oliver Plunkett, St Agnes', St Michael's, St Teresa's, Holy Trinity and Hannahstown - come together for fun and fellowship.
There will be a Blessing of Families at 2pm in St Michael's on Finaghy Road North, followed by amusements and refreshments until 7pm in the adjacent St John the Baptist School car park.
Fr Aidan Brankin, St Oliver Plunkett parish priest, said the World Meeting of Families was an important event.
"With the World Meeting of Families happening in August, we wanted a day for local families to come together and celebrate, pray, play and just spend time and have fun together," he said.
"This is the month of the Sacred Heart and the highlight of the day will be the service of Blessing of Families for everyone in our pastoral area.
"I would like to extend a warm welcome to all families in west Belfast to come along and enjoy the Family Fun Day."
In Armagh, meanwhile, a festival to mark the opening of the World Meeting of Families will take place on Tuesday August 21.
The free festival is being hosted by the Archdiocese of Armagh and Armagh City, and will start at 5pm in the Shambles Market.
It promises to be a joyful, fun celebration of family - "of all ages, shapes and sizes," in the words of the organisers - and will include live music, dance, bouncy castles, face painting and a wide range of other activities.
At 7pm there will be a procession from the Shambles Market to St Patrick's Cathedral, followed by more music and evening prayer from 7.30pm.
More information from Sharon Dunne, the Armagh Diocesan Delegate for WMOF, by emailing email@example.com or telephoning 00353 (0) 42 933 6393 or 00353 (0) 87 641 7334.
The World Meeting of Families is being hosted by the Archdioces of Dublin and runs from Wednesday August 22 to Sunday August 26.
Pope Francis is visiting the final two days of the event.
Almost 30,000 people are already registered to attend the WMOF's programme of workshops, seminars and talks devoted to the link between faith and family in contemporary society.
Subjects include the future of marriage preparation, the challenges of handing on the faith in the home and the impact of technology on the family.
There will be a presentation by Jesuit Fr James Martin on how parishes "can support those families with members who identify as LGBTI+" and sessions on addiction, homelessness and the relationship between sport and family.
- More information at www.worldmeeting2018.ie
- If your parish is holding a World Meeting of Families event, email firstname.lastname@example.org