Bookings for World Meeting of Families events in Dublin next month "before it ever starts, has already exceeded all records," Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty has said.
The event, which began in Rome in 1994, has taken place every three years since. Other cities where it has been hosted include Rio de Janeiro (1997), Manila (2003), Valencia (2006), Mexico City (2009), Milan (2012), and Philadelphia (2015). It has been in Rome twice, in 1994 and 2000.
In his homily for Aifreann na Clainne (Mass of the Family), which took place at the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook Sunday morning and was broadcast on TV and radio, Bishop Nulty said that "in 41 days' time Pope Francis arrives for the World Meeting of Families".
"On the first day that the tickets went online, those for Knock were completely gone in just over four hours. By midnight of that first day that tickets became available, 353,874 had booked tickets for the Mass in the Phoenix Park.
“This World Meeting, centred here in Dublin, before it ever starts, has already exceeded all records.”
Tickets for all events are now gone but World Meeting of Families spokeswoman Brenda Drumm advised people still wishing to attend events to contact their local parish where there may be extra or returned tickets.
The Church of Ireland has encouraged its members to attend and support events associated with the World Meeting of Families.
Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson will take part in a panel discussion at its pastoral congress in the RDS on Wednesday, August 22nd, on the topic "Celebrating Family in the Judeo-Christian Tradition".
The panel will include Archpriest Mikhail Nasonov, Rector of the Russian Orthodox Church at Harold's Cross in Dublin and Rabbi Zalman Lent, Chief Rabbi of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation.
Moderator will be Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
Greg Fromholz, young adults' officer in the Church of Ireland archdiocese of Dublin and Glendalough, has been seconded to managing the three and a half days of programmes in the family arena at the RDS during the pastoral congress. He will also be also co-ordinating/animating the pre- and post-papal Mass programme at the Phoenix Park.
At its general assembly last month the Presbyterian Church in Ireland agreed its moderator Rev Dr Charles McMullen should meet Pope Francis when he visits next month.
Among sportspeople taking part in the pastoral congress at the RDS on Thursday, August 23rd, will be former Ireland and Munster rugby player Ronan O'Gara , Olive Foley, widow of Anthony Foley who also played rugby for Ireland and Munster, and five-time All-Ireland-winning Kerry GAA player Aidan O'Mahony. They will take part in a discussion on "Celebrating Family and Sport".
Bishop Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Council for Culture, will also speak. Moderator of that discussion will be Dominican priest and former Manchester United player Fr Philip Mulryne.
Tyrone GAA senior county football manager Mickey Harte will take part in a discussion on fatherhood later that day.