DUBLIN, Ireland. The Irish and families from around the world welcomed the visit of Pope Francis to celebrate the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on Aug. 26, saying that the pope brought a fresh wave of hope.
“I’ve been delighted to see so many young people and so many of the international groups and the joy of everybody,” said Father John Cooney of Kilmainhamwood in Kells County. “It’s refreshing. It can only be good for our church in Ireland, to have hope — they feel they belong to that sense of hope.”
It is estimated that 500,000 people attended the ticket-only Papal Mass at Phoenix Park, which is known as one of the largest city parks in Europe. The night before the Mass, Pope Francis attended the Festival of Families, which featured hundreds of Irish stepdancers dancing in unison during a performance of “Riverdance.”
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Marvyn O’Luing, 42, of Cork County, who traveled about three hours by train and bus to attend both events.
“I hope the pope’s visit along with the words he has spoken and the gestures he has made have made a lasting, positive and enriching impact on all Irish hearts and minds,” he said.
“This brought a lot of people together despite a lot of the negative comments made by the media,” said Brendan Curtis, 35, of Carlanstown, Ireland. “His talking about use of social media last night — that we need to talk to family more, rather than just text them, was right on.”
“The thing I liked most about the Mass today was that it was a continuation of Pope Francis’ homily from last night,” said Terra Skoglund, 28, a nurse from Denver. “He encouraged everyone to say ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ in our families. Family is alive and dynamic. The church is our family! During the penitential rite, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness in areas where people have been hurt by the church and asked everyone to be a family of families.”
Julian Drapiewski, 38, of Galway is a father of four who attended the Mass and some of the World Meeting of Families Congress with his wife and children.
“We are so rushed today that we need to stop and think about what really matters in life,” he said. “This has such a multinational dimension. We are so different yet we are united by faith.”
“If you want peace in the world, begin with the family,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India said in a homily early that week. The key to successful families is communication, he said.