World Meeting of Families 2018 in Ireland announced July 8, 2018, that all 500,000 tickets for its Closing Mass, in the Phoenix Park, Dublin on Sunday, August, 26 have been booked out.
The free tickets went live for booking on Monday 25 June at 5.00am. Within the first 24 hours, 285,000 tickets were booked. Just 24 hours later the bookings had risen to 400,000. Strong demand for tickets since then has seen several thousand bookings per day with the last of the tickets being booked today, just short of two weeks since their release date.
Dublin, Ireland, was chosen by Pope Francis to host the 9th World Meeting of Families from 21-26 August 2018, guided by the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. Held every three years, this major international event brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and of the Church.
Commenting on tickets being booked out so far in advance of the Mass with Pope Francis, Fr. Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of the WMOF2018 said those involved in organizing the World Meeting of Families are not surprised at the very high levels of interest.
He said, “While I was cautious at the beginning, and while I am a little surprised every part of the event is booked out six weeks in advance, including the Mass for half-a-million people in Phoenix Park, I am not surprised at all by the incredibly high levels of interest. Family is important to all of us. People like what Pope Francis is saying about family and the Church.”
Father Bartlett made a particular appeal for those coming to the Mass in Phoenix Park to plan their journey well in advance. “We are working with the Gardai and other authorities to make the WMOF2018 a joyful, welcoming and comfortable event. But it is vital everybody thinks through how they will get to and from the Mass, what they will bring with them in terms of seating, clothing, and food. There will be lots of facilities in the Park, including water, food outlets and toilets. There will also be lots of music, singing and other activities before and after Pope Francis is there. However, families and individuals should try to come with groups where they can. They should try to use coaches and public transport to reduce the impact on the environment and pressure on the roads. Parish groups and others need to come together and figure out how they can help those who are on their own or who need extra help physically getting to the site of the Mass. Now is the time to start planning. Now is the time to come together as the family of families to help one another prepare for and enjoy this incredible, historic event, which Pope Francis will celebrate with us.”
Father Bartlett concluded, “The limits set on attendance were set by those statutory agencies with responsibility for health and safety, which is paramount for us all. While I know many will be disappointed they have not managed to get tickets for Knock Shrine or the Phoenix Park, we will be broadcasting these events live for those who were unable to secure a ticket. Many parishes and dioceses are also arranging gatherings so as people who are unable to attend in person can feel part of the Mass and the other events with Pope Francis.”
The following are some key statistics from the bookings:
- 116 countries are represented in bookings for the Mass in Phoenix Park.
- Registered overseas visitors for the Mass are in excess of 15,000 people.
- Approximately 46 percent of those planning to attend the Final Mass gave an address in Dublin.
- The balance of the remaining bookings are spread evenly across the country.
- Over half of those registered to attend the World Meeting of Families in the RDS are parents with children under 18 years of age. This pattern is expected to be similar at the Final Mass in Phoenix Park.
Key elements of the program:
- First, a National Opening of World Meeting of Families will take place simultaneously in the twenty-six dioceses on the island of Ireland on Tuesday, August 21;
- Second, from August 22-24, a three-day Pastoral Congress will take place in the RDS, Dublin and will include a joyful and reflective programme of workshops, talks, and discussions centered on the theme: “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. The Congress will also offer an engaging programme for young people to include faith and fun activities for children;
- Third, a Festival of Families will be held on Saturday 25 August 2018 in Croke Park, Dublin. This will involve a cultural concert within a prayerful and joyful atmosphere, during which personal stories of faith will be shared by families, each representing the five continents. Pope Francis will be present for this event; and,
- Fourth, the Closing Mass for WMOF2018which will take place at the Papal Cross in the heart of the Phoenix Park in Dublin on the afternoon of Sunday, August 26. The Mass will begin at 3.00 pm. This is a solemn Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday, August 26, which will involve thousands of pilgrims from Ireland and around the world in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Pope Francis will be the principal celebrant of this Mass. Tickets for Phoenix Park will be issued by email as a ‘print at home’ ticket by July 31.
- Knock Shrine Pope Francis will visit Knock Shrine on the morning of Sunday 26th August to pray for families and the WMOF2018. He will arrive to Knock Shrine at 9.45am where he will visit the Apparition Chapel and then give the Angelus address on the square in front of the Shrine. He will depart the Shrine at 10.45 am. Tickets for the Knock Shrine event will be printed and posted by August 10.