The “Celebration of Family” Conference took place in St Mary’s College, Northland Road, Derry on Saturday 3rd February 2018 from 10am to 6pm. Marie Lindsay, Principal, St Marys said that it was particularly fitting that we are hosting this important conference  as Catholic schools week draws to a close, which this year has a theme ‘Catholic Schools: Families of Faith’ reflecting on and celebrating the relationship that exists between home, school and parish’.

The conference was organised by Fr. Pat O’Hagan, PP.,Moville and his team. Fr Pat is the chairperson of the diocesan committee preparing for the World Meeting of FamiliesThe Conference was well attended by 200+ delegates from the 53 parishes that make up the Diocese of Derry. This includes almost all of County Derry, Parts of County Tyrone and Donegal and a small area across the River Bann in County Antrim

We received a welcome from Bishop Donal McKeown who encouraged us to investigate what ‘the Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World’ implies for the diocese of Derry

The World meeting of Families gives us an opportunity to highlight the role of the family unit as a core cell of a healthy society. But the Gospel goes much further than a sociological statement. The scriptures proclaim that we, through grace, are capable of great generosity, idealism, sacrifice and love. In a world of much fragmentation and anger, ‘the Christian proclamation of the family is an indispensable part of the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel.

Christ assures us that we the broken heart of the world will not be healed by collecting things but by love, belonging and forgiveness. Through the Gospel of the Family, we can both speak a prophetic voice into present realities and give people hope for the future.
Bishop Donal gave a special word of welcome to Bishop Okolo, the papal nuncio.

The guest speakers at the event were Grainne Doherty, Gerard Gallagher & Fr Johney Doherty
Grainne Doherty is Director for Pastoral Development for Raphoe Diocese, Ireland and Part-time Lecturer in Theology, All Hallows College

Gerard Gallagher, a native of Derry Diocese from Strabane, is a Pastoral Co-Ordinator in the Archdiocese of Dublin at Archdiocese of Dublin, and author of Are We Losing the Young Church? (Columba Press 2005) and Your Child’s Confirmation (Redemptorist Communications 2012). He writes regularly for various journals and publications. He has worked in Munich, Germany with the irish Chaplaincy Service and since the early 1990s with Catholic Youth Care in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Fr Johnny Doherty CSsR is a Marriage Enrichment Specialist with ACCORD, Director of Love is for Life, founder of a Movement of Continuous Prayer for Marriage & Family Life and an international retreat giver for priests and religious. He is the author of Living the Sunday Liturgy and collaborated on Together Forever, a set of videos on marriage.

The Closing Mass was celebrated by the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo.