On the Road to Dublin

Wednesday 29th August 2018

Last week a group from the Diocese went to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. The group were led by Fr Paul Daly and he has provided us with an insight in to the trip:

On Tuesday 21st August, at a very very early hour, 13 pilgrims from the Diocese set off for Holyhead to catch the ferry to Dublin for the World Meeting of Families. Also in Dublin for the Meeting were Bishop John, a group from St Charles, Swinton, and various people who had travelled independently. All in all the Diocese was represented by about 50 pilgrims.

The WMOF began with a three day Congress at the Royal Dublin Show, comprising workshops and presentations, key-note addresses and worship around this year’s theme of ‘The Gospel of the Family; Joy for the World’. Married people, Cardinals and Bishops, speakers from all over the world all provided plenty to think about.

Despite some confusion with ticketing, understandable with such a vast enterprise, all our delegates got the chance to attend some of the Congress and Salford was represented on each day.

In addition, the Diocesan Group took the opportunity to travel to Clonmacnoise and to Knock and Ballintubber Abbey.

Pope Francis flew in on the Saturday morning. While he had a busy round of events, we were focused on one goal – getting to Croke Park for 4.30pm. This was no easy task given the scale of road closures and our wish to visit the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin at the church of St. Teresa in the city centre. Unfortunately, since Mass was being celebrated, we went for a cup of tea and while we were quenching our thirst, St. Therese and her parents left for Phoenix Park!  However a kindly Carmelite friar arranged for the van doors to be opened and we did have the chance to venerate the relics of three of that quite remarkable family.

After a lot of walking we made it to Croke Park. Where and when else would you get the Pope, the Priests, Daniel O’Donnell, Andrea Bocelli and Riverdance all together? But more moving was the testimonies of several families, from Burkina Faso, Iraq, Dublin and elsewhere. Pope Francis reminded us often of the need to accompany families in the real concrete situations of their lives, a process which begins with encounter and listening.

If we thought there was a lot of walking on the Saturday, it was merely a run-through for the Sunday. Armed with cagoules, collapsible chairs, packed-lunches etc, we set off by Luas (tram) to Kylemore and then walked the next five miles to Phoenix Park. It rained! But spirits were kept high and we made it.

The Papal Mass began with a very moving prayer asking for pardon for crimes of abuse, for cover-ups, for women being forced to give their children up for adoption, for those harmed in the orphanages and laundries. The fact that the Pope read this prayer in Spanish makes me think that he wrote the prayer himself, in his own words, in response to what he had heard.

The Mass itself was prayerful, quite simple and, for these occasions, quite quick. After all, the Pope had one further meeting to attend and a plane to catch, returning back to his apartment close to midnight, having been away for 36 hours.

We, on the other hand, had a gentle uphill five mile stroll back, reflecting on what we had heard, glad to have been together, inspired to be members of the Church which is ‘the family of families’, looking forward to World Meeting of Families 2021 in Rome but looking forward even more to the very welcome Guinness back at the hotel.

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