Bishop Tom Deenihan recognised the commitment of parishioners from around the diocese of Meath during the preparations, ceremonies and celebrations of the recent Ninth World Meeting of Families.
Certificates of participation were presented at the conclusion of Evening Prayer in St Mary’s Church, Navan on the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.
Teenagers Celestine Feeney and Akvile Dudenaite welcomed the participants and described the extra sense of purpose which their work as WMOF volunteers has brought to their duties as prefects in Sacred Heart School in Drogheda.
Similar messages were presented by the Holy Family Parish Youth Group who introduced the evening with a modern music interpretation of the challenge of faith for society. Their musical drama “A Little Bit of Francis” on the life of Pope Francis from his days in Argentina to his election as Pope featured as part of the programme for young families in the RDS.
The Richardson family from Ashbourne touched the hearts of many during the Festival of Families from Croke Park with Pope Francis. They all still cherish the rosary beads which were presented to them by the Holy Father.
Damien and Mary with their children carried the icon of the Holy Family in procession towards the altar where Bishop Deenihan lit the parish WMOF candle at the start of Evening Prayer.
The psalms and congregational hymns during Evening Prayer were led by Ephrem Feeley (another Ashbourne parishioner) who is a teacher in St Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School. His hymn “A Joy for all the Earth” was selected during a competition as the Official Hymn for the World Meeting of Families. It has allowed his music to be accessed by congregations across Ireland and enjoyed by millions around the world (including the Philippines, USA, England and Australia) during the Papal Visit.
During this homily, Fr Phil Gaffney (Meath diocesan delegate for the World Meeting of Families) highlighted the generosity of many individuals and families across the diocese of Meath who opened their homes to families from Portugal, Spain, Australia and the United States.
He made special mention of the volunteer staff in the WMOF offices in Clonliffe, Host Families, Choir Members, Bus Drivers, Musicians, Youth Groups, CEIST students, Ministers of Holy Commuion, parish secretaries and clergy. All had made the Joy of the Gospel accessible to families from other countries and had deepened the bonds of friendship within the Meath diocesan family.
Reminding WMOF volunteers of the words of Pope Francis, Fr Phil invited them to continue to witness to the Gospel and to read and reread the beautiful addresses of Pope Francis.
“Today as in the past, the men and women who live in this country strive to enrich the life of the nation with the wisdom born of their faith. Even in Ireland’s darkest hours, they found in that faith a source of the courage and commitment needed to forge a future of freedom and dignity, justice and solidarity. The Christian message has been an integral part of that experience, and has shaped the language, thought and culture of people on this island.” (Dublin Castle address)
Before presenting certificates of participation, Bishop Deenihan explored the legacy of the World Meeting of Families. He described the energy and a joyfulness which met him before his ordination as bishop on the streets of Mullingar, in the RDS, Croke Park and the Phoenix Park.
The testimony by an Indian family to Pope Francis and the families of the world found a particular resonance for many families in Mullingar and other parishes which Bishop Deenihan has visited in recent weeks. He reminded the congregation of how the Indian family decided to keep their mobile phones away from the family table because of their realisation that “what was meant to connect people was actually keeping them apart during family gatherings.”
He suggested that volunteers could continue to speak with their families and fellow-parishioners about other little cameos from Croke Park testimonies and the Phoenix Park Mass which helped volunteers and participants in their faith-life and in their family-life.
Bishop Deenihan concluded by thanking Fr Phil Gaffney and his diocesan team for drawing people of many talents and enthusiasm for a singular event in the life of the Church. “We need to tap into this source of faith and sustain that energy, commitment and enthusaiam. By doing so, we will bring life to our parishes and our dioceses in the future.”
The evening drew to a close with a beautiful rendition by Amie Dyer from Holy Family Parish, Drogheda of “Time to Say Goodbye” and concluded with Ephrem Feeley and Niamh Gavin leading the congregation in “A Joy for all the Earth.”
Testimonies, memories and photos for inclusion in the Meath WMOF Commemorative publication will be accepted not later than Monday 10 December via [[email protected]].
Volunteers who have not yet collected their certificate of participation in WMOF2018 should contact the organising committee by following this link.