Knock gets ready for influx of pilgrims for annual novena

Eva Naughton, from Westport, at the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile.

Eva Naughton, from Westport, at the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile.

The village of Knock is preparing for an influx of up to 120,000 to 150,000 people next week during the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock - which will run from Monday, August 14, to Wednesday, August 23. The annual novena at the Marian Shrine is one of the biggest events to draw people into the county each year and this year is no different. This year is the 40th year of the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock, the original intention behind the Novena was to recognise the unique role that Knock has to play in the life of the Irish church. The theme of this year's pilgrimage is 'Living Life to the Full' and there will be a number of guest speakers, and daily workshops along with services taking place over the nine days of the novena. Ceremonies will take place at 3pm and 8.30pm and workshops at 12 noon and 6pm each day.

For the early risers there is an organised walk, which will take place on Tuesday, August 15, at 3am, leaving from Bekan cemetery, the resting place of visionary Catherine Murray, who was the second youngest witness to the apparition at Knock. The guided walk will follow in the footsteps of Catherine through the townlands of Tully, Lissaniskea, Cloonfaughna, Magheramore, on through Churchfield, and finally to Knock Shrine for Mass at 6am. If interested in joining, contact Michael (087 ) 9947842 or Leonie (086 ) 8486924 for further information. On Monday, August 21, the Witnesses’ Walk will take place to mark the  anniversary of the apparition at Knock. It will begin at 7pm outside the Confessional Chapel and take a short route (2.5km ) around the Shrine and village, pausing at key points. It will end with a minute silence in the Apparition Chapel at 8pm prior to the novena evening ceremony

The novena will open on Monday, August 14, with Dr Mary Healy, international speaker on scripture and healing, followed by Redemptorists Fr Seamus Enright and Fr Michael Cusack on Tuesday, August 15. Marty Morrissey will make his debut public appearance at Knock on Wednesday, August 16, when he will speak during the 3pm and 8.30pm ceremonies. Although best known for his career as a sports commentator and TV personality on RTÉ, Marty Morrissey is also known for his great sense of humour and infectious upbeat personality. Sport will be the topic du jour as workshops will be delivered by Fr Kevin O’Gorman, author of Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality.

There will be a local flavour on Thursday, August 17, with Knock native Bernadette McNeive and professional motivational speaker Darren Cawley who will both deliver moving accounts of their own personal stories of organ donation. To mark 500 years since the Reformation, Rt Revd Patrick Rooke (Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry Diocese - Church of Ireland ) will be welcomed for the ceremonies on Friday, August 18 and joined by Dr Salvador Ryan, professor of ecclesiastical history at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, who will conduct workshops on this day.

One of the main highlights of the novena will take place on Monday, August 21, with the launch of the World Meeting of Families 2018 programme Amoris: Let’s talk Family, Let’s be Family. Families representing each diocese will travel to Knock for this special day. A newly commissioned Icon of the Holy Family will be unveiled and anointed in the Basilica following which the Icon will travel to each diocese around the country as part of the WMOF2018 celebrations.

Fr Richard Gibbons, PP, Rector of Knock Shrine is looking forward to hosting the annual novena which continues to be the biggest event in the Shrine’s calendar, saying: "The novena is about embracing our spiritual selves and in today’s world it is a valuable thing to take some time alone or with family and friends to experience the richness of our faith and to escape the material and fast-paced world.”

Knock Shrine is engaging more and more with pilgrims on social media and this year it is planned to have all of the ceremonies steamed live via the Knock Shrine Facebook and Twitter pages. The Masses will also be streamed as usual on the Knock Shrine website and YouTube channel. Ceremonies will take place at 3pm and 8.30pm and workshops at 12 noon and 6pm daily. Find out more at www.knockshrine.ie/novena-17 or follow @knockshrine on Facebook and Twitter.

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