Deirdre and Shauna Elliman and Mary Noonan at the Family Fun Day in Mary Immaculate College Picture: Keith Wiseman
THERE were animals in a mobile farm, face painting for the little ones, archery and an obstacle course for the older ones, marching bands, water zorbs and a ‘beautiful liturgy’.
For the majority of those in attendance at the Family Fun Day in Mary Immaculate College last Sunday, organised by Limerick Diocese to mark its march towards the World Meeting of Families in Dublin next year, the Mass was the beating heart of this huge community event.
Families milled around in their hundreds on the MIC campus, a fact Bishop Brendan Leahy said “was fantastic”.
“I don’t think there is anything that warms the heart as much as seeing families have fun and we were surrounded by it,” he said.
“It wasn’t just the children; you could see the parents relishing it also. I went into the indoor sports area at one stage and there was a wonderful three-a-side happening between a father and his two sons. I saw mams and dads in musical chairs, at face-painting. It was just so refreshing to see all those smiles, hear all that laughter. The comment that summed it for me was one parent who said that if next year’s World Meeting of Families event will be anything like Sunday’s there’ll be unbelievable crowds at it.”
The event was to launch the Diocese’s programme for that World Meeting of Families in 2018, which, it is hoped, will be attended by Pope Francis. Bishop Leahy said it was “perhaps the most important gathering in this country for decades”.
Limerick’s delegates will be Emer Hurley Williams and husband John - most likely one of the few married couples on the organising committee on Limerick’s behalf for the 2018 event.
Emer, from Kilmallock, said Sunday’s event was “about gathering families from all over the diocese together to have fun. It is a build up to the World Meeting of Families and as a Diocese we have gathered to have fun as a family”.
Echoing the Bishop’s sentiment that, while “deeply spiritual”, the events were also about inclusivity and reaching out to the wider community, she said: “We have a huge crowd here today and I suppose a lot of them don’t meet us at Mass on a Sunday - but who cares? We are here having fun as a family.
“The World Meeting of Families is an event that takes place every three years and we are very honoured that Pope Francis has chosen Ireland to host it. We are hoping that he will be come to Ireland on that day. Today is all about just getting ready for that event and having fun being a family.”