- ACN to present the Church as the “Family of Families” at the World Meeting of Families
- How the Charity and Pontifical Foundation is helping families from different parts of the world to take part in the Dublin meeting
From 21 to 26 August thousands of people will be descending on Dublin, Ireland to take part in the World Meeting of Families sponsored by the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life.
The event will include a three-day congress with a varied programme for young people and adults. The international Catholic charity ACN will be involved, organising two meetings which will highlight the experiences, hopes and challenges facing families in such widely differing countries as Russia, Kenya and the Congo (on Wednesday 22 August, Hall 3, at 7 p.m. and on Thursday 23 August, in Hall 8B, again at 7 p.m.)
On Friday 24 August Dr. Michael Kinsella, national director of the Irish national office of ACN, will take part in a panel discussion on “The family as agent of peace in a turbulent world” (Hall 2, at 11.30 a.m.). On the same day, during the afternoon programme, Father Michael Shields, a missionary who is originally from Alaska but who has been working for 20 years in Russia will give his testimony. He is today the only Catholic priest in the whole of East Siberia and ACN has been working together with him for many years.
The official theme of the world meeting is: “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World”, and it is sponsored by the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. It will conclude with a Festival of Families in Croke Park, on 25 August, and the closing Mass will be held in Phoenix Park on 26 August in the presence of Pope Francis.
Throughout the Congress, ACN will be present in Hall 8D, where it will be displaying its various activities and where it will also be holding a special exhibition, entitled “… And you shall be My witnesses”, highlighting the sufferings of countless Christian families in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria.
As it regularly does with other important international events in the spiritual life of the Church, ACN will be providing financial help through a series of projects to enable families from some of the poorest countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia, to take part in the Dublin meeting, and afterwards to return and spread the message back home. Among these will be a group of Syrian families, accompanied by the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Monsignor Samir Nassar. Speaking on behalf of the Episcopal Committee for the Family in Syria, he writes, “Thank you for helping the Syrian delegation to attend this great Church Gathering of peace and hope, and bring with it the hopes and dreams of the forgotten and wounded Syrian families”.
Finally, one of the major ways in which ACN has been contributing to the World Meeting of Families has been through its support for the international publication of the “YOUCAT for Kids” – described as the “little brother of the youth catechism YOUCAT”– which will be offered to the families at the meeting in Ireland as a gift from the Holy Father. Pope Francis has contributed to the book with a prologue addressed to parents: “I entrust you with YOUCAT for KIDS. Do not get tired of questions or of sharing your faith. Do not remain silent when your children have pressing questions, but always have the strength to hand on the faith, which you too received from your parents. Be a living chain, so that from generation to generation, the gospel may always be present in our families, our communities and in the Church”.
Support for the family apostolate is one of the principal priorities of ACN. In 2017 the organisation contributed over 11 million Euros to the support of families, in the form of 260 different projects in 70 different countries. Almost 10 million Euros of this was given as emergency humanitarian aid for Christian families in Syria and Iraq, while the rest was for a variety of smaller projects for the pastoral care and support of the family.