February 23, 2018

All ages welcome on archdiocesan pilgrimage to Ireland for 2018 World Meeting of Families

By Natalie Hoefer

2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland logoThe archdiocese will lead a pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, from Aug. 18-27, 2018. The pilgrimage is sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan director of vocations, will serve as its spiritual director.

The World Meeting of Families was started in 1994 by St. John Paul II and is held every three years. The 2018 theme is “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.”

“The World Meeting of Families will be a time for us to focus on the good news of the family,” says Scott Seibert, archdiocesan director of Marriage and Family Life, who will also accompany the pilgrimage. “The fact that God created us in his image, that he is present with us and came to us through family—the family is the Imago Dei [image of God]—what good news!”

The pilgrimage is for “anyone who is part of a family—which is everyone!” says Seibert. “If you are interested in seeing Ireland and learning more about God’s design for families and being inspired by the Church’s vision of love, marriage, and family life, then this is the pilgrimage for you! It’s for anyone of any age and walk of life: married, single, divorced, widowed, parents, grandparents, clergy, children and religious.”

He notes the many problems families face today: “The rise of single-parent homes, the rise in cohabiting and never-married parents, the rise of depression in our youths and [the rise in] substance abuse—families are broken.

“Yet, despite it all, they are the school of love and mercy. We as humans learn to be a part of something bigger, learn to care for others, learn to give, and learn to love in families. This builds society—it builds a civilization of love. … The World Meeting of Families brings together families from all over the world to truly see the connection between life, family, nation and world.”

In a world where working parents feel more accomplished on the job than at home, says Seibert, “Fathers and mothers need to be reminded how they are truly changing the world simply by loving and raising their family. … Families are a saint-making business when done right and with openness to God, but it’s hard to see the extraordinary within the ordinary. … For these reasons, we need the World Meeting of Families.”

Father Augenstein notes that “vocations come from families—and not just vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life, but disciples of all kinds come from families.

“The World Meeting of Families is an opportunity to step back and be both rejuvenated and challenged in growing as disciples in the family through shared prayer, faith-filled speakers, and encounters with families from all around the world.”

Father Augenstein points out that this event is truly a pilgrimage, not a “trip.”

“We were very intentional in planning the itinerary of this pilgrimage so that it is grounded in faith and prayer,” he says. “Mass will be celebrated every day, and there will be other significant opportunities for prayer and spiritual growth.”

The pilgrimage will include visits to many Catholic shrines, including Our Lady of Knock, the tomb of St. Patrick and the shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett.

The World Meeting of Families takes place on Aug. 21-26. It will include keynote speakers, workshops, talks, testimonies and discussions, as well as daily celebration of the Eucharist, prayerful activities, exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances. The event will end on Aug. 26 with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

Pilgrims will also have the opportunity to visit several towns and destinations in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, including Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Dublin, Westport and more, plus have time for their own exploration, visiting pubs and seeing the Emerald Isle. Optional tours will also be available for purchase while in Dublin.

Seibert notes that, while the World Meeting of Families offers a program for children ages 4-12, “it is for each family to discern for their children whether God might be calling them to this experience. The itinerary is pretty full, and travel across an ocean is no small feat for children. However, this would truly give them an experience unlike any other. …

“As St. Teresa of Calcutta says, ‘If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.’ Well, let’s send them to Ireland and then send them back to their Church families to change the world and bring back the Gospel of the family.”

(The complete pilgrimage package includes round trip commercial airfare non-stop from Chicago, private coach to/from Chicago, deluxe hotel accommodations, single and double occupancy, all itinerary admission and inclusions, Dublin rail pass for three days, and 12 meals. The price is $3,499 per person double occupancy or $4,188 per person single occupancy. To register or for more information on the itinerary, trip insurance and payment schedule, call Grueninger Travel Group at 317-581-1122.)

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