World Meeting of Families (2018) preparatory event held in the Church of the Holy Family, Youghal, Saturday, 20th May 2017
Bishop William’s Homily given during Mass
I was speaking with a parent within the last few weeks and she got talking about the difference between raising boys from raising girls – she summed it up by saying “boys will wreck your house but girls will wreck your head”. I don’t know how true that is but what it goes to show is that being a parent is demanding.
It is demanding to watch over and guide a young person because they want to do their own “thing” and while you want to give them freedom you do not want to give them too much lest they get in harm’s way. This challenge of being a parent is just as true for two parent families as for lone parents. If anything, it is more demanding for lone parents unless they have the support of a wider family.
My friends, the life and health of the Church community is intimately linked to one another. Wherever the families go the Church seeks to go with them to gather them into a community that supports one another.
To-day Los Angeles is a huge cluster of cities but less than a 100 years ago it was a small city. At that time, there was a very astute administrator who could foresee the huge growth that was to come so he bought land at every major crossroads so that whatever direction the development of houses would take the diocese would have land to build a church and a school in order to serve these families as they settled into a new community.
St. Pope John Paul II described the family as “the domestic church” the family is “the Church at home”.
Pope Francis has been so concerned about the family that he convened not just one Synod but two to think through the new challenges that families are experiencing in our time. He has written a warm and personal letter to the Church throughout the world offering thoughts and ideas for living peacefully and well in our families – he called it Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love – the only thing about it is that it’s a long letter only about 150 pages! It is this letter “The Joy of Love” which is our special inspiration as we prepare to be the host of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018.
For the Diocese, it is most fitting that we gather in this Church dedicated to the Holy Family as you celebrate 25 years – Silver Jubilee. More than 30 years ago it was decided that because families would live here you should have a church, this sacred gathering place at the centre of your community.
To-night we are thankful to God for the countless blessings you have had bestowed on this community through all who have prayed and ministered here over these past twenty-five years.
The Church at the centre of a community is a very powerful statement of witness to Christ as Lord and Saviour on our life journey. Equally powerful by way of witness is parents sharing of their faith experience as they cope with and manage the demands and challenges of being a parent. Finding the balance between the demands of work, family relationships and possibly care for one’s own parents is no easy task. All members of the family from the youngest upward have a responsibility to share the care of one another.
The World Meeting of Families 2018 is meant both as a celebration of the blessing of our family and the need for healing and reconciliation in many families. Our families are a “work in progress” – there are no “perfect families”. Yet it is in our families we learn the “art of living” through the way we treat and respect another.
This Autumn and again in Springtime we will provide opportunities for families to think and talk about their experiences so as to improve and embrace their family life. There are simple questions we need to ask ourselves which can help parents and children deepen their love and care for one another.
How often do we sit together for meals?
Do we pray together?
Do you talk to your Mum or Dad about a worry you have?
Do you check with them about your use of your phone?
Is alcohol or any other addiction causing difficulty in your family?
These questions are ordinary everyday issues that can be the difference between a happy home and one split with tension and division.
To-night while we are thankful to God for this centre of faith dedicated to the Holy Family we ask too God’s grace to strengthen us in our families and our care for one another.