Travelling to Ireland with a lot more than luck

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Family Educators heading to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin this month.

Irish-born Sinead Kent is returning to her native homeland to share faith, friendship and formation with over 30,000 “family members”.

She is one of seven Family Educators from the Sydney Archdiocese selected to attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin later this month.

Held every three years, the event brings together pilgrims from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect on the importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and the Church and will feature a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

Sinead, from St Vincent’s primary school at Ashfield, said she is thrilled to not only learn but share with others the important role the Family Educator plays in her parish.

Piloted with just six people in Sydney Catholic Schools in 2010, today there are over 120 dedicated leaders fostering meaningful relationships between schools, families and the parish.

Sinead said her birth country would very much benefit by introducing the Sydney program.

She said due to the changing face of the Irish landscape, the Meeting of Families couldn’t come at a better time for the nation which has experienced huge upheaval over the  past two decades.

“Ireland has changed dramatically, you only have to look at the two recent referenda on same-sex marriage and abortion to know that,” she said.

“Sure if you scratch the surface you’ll find Catholics there but I feel they need a program like ours to bring people, and many of them young, back to the church.  They need some sort of conduit to bridge that gap between school and church.

“Ireland was chosen to host the Congress for a reason, I truly think it and the Church needs it.

“If enough people gather together and unite in prayer under the umbrella of the Holy Spirit change will be made.

Family Educators heading to the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin, together with Robert Haddad, head of evangelisation at Sydney Catholic Schools (third from left) and Bishop Terry Brady (centre).

“This is such a tremendous opportunity for us to not only learn but just as importantly share information with others.”

Sinead will be joined by Anita Sicari, Our Lady of Fatima Kingsgrove, Veronica Leva, St Anthony of Padua Austral, Monique Philips, St Gabriel’s Bexley, Katie Thornton, St Agnes’ Matraville, Anne Gray, St Joan of Arc Haberfield and Manuela DeAlmeida, Christ the King Bass Hill, for the Congress.

Established in 1994, the World Meeting of Families started after Pope John Paul II asked for an international event of prayer, catechesis and celebration that would draw together participants from all around the globe and bear witness to the importance of marriage and the family to all of society.

Some of the issues being discussed at the 2018 congress include the role of technology in the family, the impact of conflict on families and children, faith and family, women’s global and local leadership roles and the role of education in raising families out of poverty.

Tour chaplain Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady said participants were being given an invaluable opportunity to witness the Church in Europe first hand from a broader perspective.

He said it was a chance for them to share their faith, vision and spirituality with each other and those from around the world.

“In Australia at the moment it is very easy to get swamped with the issues currently affecting the Church,” he said.

“These Family Educators will get the opportunity to see the Church from an international perspective and not be bogged down with local problems.

“It’s a great opportunity to share faith and a vision for the future of the Church with like-minded, active members of the Church community.

“We don’t always see it but there is goodness everywhere, it will be terrific for them to have their faith refreshed by seeing the bigger picture – the universal Catholic Church in action.”