A QUEENSLAND couple with seven children will lead the official Australian pilgrimage to the ninth World Meeting of Families conference in Dublin in August.
Mark and Tink Boyd, from Yeppoon, first attended a World Meeting of Families conference in Mexico City in 2009 after an invitation from then Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan.
“It just opened our eyes to the evangelising spirit of families,” music teacher Mrs Boyd said of the experience of meeting with thousands of “like-minded, same-faith, same-spirited families”.
“You can often think that you are the only ones in your situation – the only family – it is very affirming to see there are families from all over the world like your family.
“To give that opportunity to families is what the trip is all about.”
The Boyds, now members of the Catholic Marriage and Family Council, encourage families to join the 11-day pilgrimage to Dublin starting on August 18.
In the three days leading up to the WMF conference, pilgrims will explore Dublin and visit famous sites including the holy town of Glendalough, once a monastic settlement founded in the sixth century by St Kevin, and the picturesque medieval town of Kildare, the site of St Brigid’s Cathedral.
Darwin teacher Matt Burke, his wife Cathy and four children joined the last pilgrimage to attend the WMF conference in Philadelphia in 2015, and described it as “a life-inspiring experience”.
“We came back with a strong desire to be family, to reach out to other families, and to keep the church family focused in our own small way,” Mr Burke said.
“And a trip like that has had positive effects on our kids, consolidating their faith as well.
“They had the experience of seeing that being Catholic and having faith as a family is a really big thing.”
Mr Burke said he was inspired by keynote speakers during the WMF in Philadelphia and came away “with a sense of affirmation to be a family is important in its own right regardless of the Catholic side of it”.
“Being family is a gift to the world,” he said.
“I also felt a stronger desire to put God at the centre of that family, and to live in and through the reality that we can welcome God into our family and that God can help shape who we are and what we do.”
Each day at the WMF conference in Dublin there will be a celebration of the Eucharist, prayerful activities, keynote speakers, workshops and exhibitions.
Pope Francis chose the theme for the event “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.
He will attend the Festival of Families and the final Mass, part of the first pontifical visit to Ireland in almost 40 years.
“The family… is the place where one learns to live; it is the natural centre of human life,” the Pope has said.
“It is made up of faces, of people who love dialogue, who make self-sacrifices for one another and defend life, especially of the most vulnerable and the weakest.
“One could say, without exaggeration, that the family is the driving force of the world and of history.”
For details about join the Australian pilgrimage to the WMF in Dublin contact Mark and Tink Boyd at
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Tink on 0429 392 346; or contact Harvest Journeys on www.harvestpilgrims.com or phone 1800 819 156.