On Sunday, November 12th, in excess of 450 people gathered in the Sports Complex, Charlestown, Co. Mayo for an afternoon with a difference. Organised by the World Meeting of Families 2018 Diocesan Committee, the afternoon took the format of a Boston Tea Party. Individuals and groups from around the diocese hosted tables, bringing together families and friends from the twenty-three parishes of Achonry Diocese. Tommy Marren, of Tourlestrane Parish, and well known broadcaster with Mid West Radio was MC for the afternoon and ably directed proceedings.
The Complex was quite literally transformed and looked amazing. Full credit to all involved. One of the most impressive aspects of the gathering was the host of young people from the local secondary school. These were a credit to themselves, their families and school. Well done. They served table, were so kind and efficient to a fault.
A short video, featuring the planning of and the events around the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia was shown. This gave all gathered a great sense of what to expect and the amount of preparation that needs to be done. A representative of WMOF 2018 spoke to all gathered about the great need for volunteers and encouraged people to consider becoming involved in this way. For more information, click here
Bishop Brendan shared a few thoughts around his own wishes for the gathering in August 2018 and sees it as a central pillar in supporting family life in its very many shapes and forms. Quoting Pope Francis, he told us the family is “The nearest hospital, first school and best place to grow old”.
There were a few musical moments as well, not least in teaching all gathered the official hymn for the World Meeting of Families. The tones were sweet! It’s a tune that will take hold and will hopefully spread throughout our diocese, country and beyond. Well done to the Fr Peyton Cluster Choir who led us in song.
Large screens relayed images of artwork around “family life” that had been submitted by pupils of primary and secondary schools throughout the diocese.
There was a powerful enactment of the gospel passage of the Child Jesus being lost, as a twelve year old, and the restlessness of his parents until he was found again. This served to remind us of the experience of “family” encountered by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
One of the undoubted highlights of the afternoon was the performance of a play, written by Una Leavy (Charlestown) and performed by a group of children from the local Primary School. It was breathtaking in its simplicity and accuracy as it portrayed something of the lived reality of family life. A man stood up to take a photograph and I hoped it might lead to a standing ovation – though that did not happen, the children were amazing. Literally “take a bow”.
The evening finished with another visit from the Fr Peyton Cluster Choir, this time transformed into the cast of Sister Act. They entertained us with some of the well known songs from Sister Act and elsewhere. Real talent and, talent is at its very best when put at the service of others. That’s exactly what happened. Well done.
There was of course food! People went above and beyond what was expected and the sharing wasn’t confined to the hosted table or parish. People freely shared food with one another and sampled the hospitality of other “families” from around the diocese. There’s no doubt, this was a desired happening and it was heartening so see such togetherness, friendship and sharing of table. All in the name of family life.
Once again, full credit to all involved in the formulating of the dream of a gathering like this that was so fully and fittingly realised this afternoon. It truly augurs well for what lies ahead in August 2018 and for the “legacy” the organisers are hoping this event will leave in its wake beyond August 2018.