Thousands attend Croke Park event to celebrate families with Pope Francis

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More than 80,000 people turned out to Dublin’s Croke Park stadium on Saturday evening for the Festival of Families.

The concert-type event was held to mark the end of the World Meeting of Families 2018, including performances by Andrea Bocelli, The Riverdance Troupe, Nathan Carter, Dana Masters and Daniel O’Donnell.

Pope Francis delivered an address and heard five testimonies by families from Ireland, Canada, India, Iraq, and Africa about the importance of family in the modern age.

Rita Coyne from Dublin watched the show along with her friend Mary Byrne, and said she was uplifted by the amount of young people involved.

She added: “It’s brilliant, it’s very different, it’s very beautiful, so different from what I expected, I found it very joyful.

“The young people involved, the colours and the dancers have been super.

“It’s been absolutely lovely.”

The selection of themes throughout the night reflected the priorities in the ministry of Pope Francis, including homelessness, migrants and refugees and care for our common home.

Nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth, Sister Francis Kelly and Sister Celine came to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and say the concert was the perfect end to an excellent week.

Sister Francis said: “We’re having a fantastic time, we’re enjoying every minute of it.

“The atmosphere is fantastic, we really enjoyed Nathan Carter, he was excellent.

“The young people have been so talented.

“We had a stand at the World Meeting of Families and everyone has taken a real interest in the work we do, we have care homes all over the UK and Ireland, and people have been so good to us, really interested and friendly.

“The event has really brought people together.”

The celebration of family life heard a number of tributes and testimonials about the importance of prioritising the role of families especially with young children.

The Traynor family, who had travelled to Croke Park from Monaghan on Saturday came in a 15-strong group.

Breeda Traynor said: “Fifteen of us all travelled up together just for today, we’ve brought along all of our kids, and some tea and sandwiches.

“We really enjoyed the concert, it’s really different, and it’s nice and fast moving, there’s not too long a wait between each act.

“It’s quite lighthearted, it’s a lot more informal than I thought it would be.

“We loved Sean Keane, he was very good.

“We’re to drive back to Monaghan tonight, but it was well worth the journey.

“It’s been a great night, great for the kids.”

The event finished with an address from Pope Francis, where he talked about the importance of family in the age of social media.

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