Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock has some 1.6 million visitors a year. When most people think of the average age of these visitors they may well be right in thinking it’s the older generation that make up this number, however hundreds of young people flock to Knock for the annual Knock Summer Youth Festival.
This time of year Knock is truly alive and buzzing with young people. The Knock Summer Youth Festival has been running for the past eight years. This year the festival will take place from July 23 to 26.
Hundreds of young people from all over the world will camp over three nights near the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to a group of local people in 1879.
Young people will come in their hundreds with sleeping bags in tow for a festival experience different to any other. A group of Franciscan brothers from the Bronx who are currently working in Moyross will head up share groups, Fr Peter McVerry, the Jesuit priest who has devoted his life to working with Dublin’s homeless drug addicts, will discuss the power of Christian living. There will also be groups who pray through hip-hop dancing, meditation, art and drumming, these are all to top the bill at the festival this summer.
The festival will see giant marquees erected in the grounds of the Marian Shrine for four days from July 23 to July 26.
Last year’s festival saw more than 700 young people from all over the country, Europe, and further afield celebrate their faith with inspiring talks, workshops, a moving candlelight healing service and gospel, folk, and rock music by faith inspired band Elation Ministries. Bishop McKeown, who celebrated the final Mass at last years’ festival, remarked: “It was an exciting time in the Church to see so many young people out to celebrate their faith.”
In a new addition to the festival line up, a number of ‘mind, body and soul’ style workshops have been added to the festival programme. Hip hop champion Don King, who recently appeared on RTÉ reality show Ballet Chancers, will deliver a workshop on dance.
Fr Louis Hughes, OP will introduce the festival goers to a workshop that aims to promote relaxation of breath and spiritual trust.
Plans are also in the pipeline for a luxurious ‘chill-out’ lounge complete with acoustic sessions and plenty of time to sit with an endless cup of coffee, and meet up with new, like-minded people.
In a move to help stimulate the return of Ireland’s youth to the Catholic Church, reflected in the festival’s theme ‘you are the light of the world’, the Bishops of Ireland have given the event their full support.
“The festival is really a chance for young people to come to Knock and experience something different to every other weekend, it’s a chance for them to realise they are the light of the world. We hope to facilitate a connection between young people and Christ, and help them to get plugged in, and switched on,” says one of the main organisers, 23-year-old, Helen Toner.
Fr McVerry SJ, one of the main speakers, will talk on what he labelled ‘the empty ideas’ of the receding Celtic Tiger and promote instead ‘radical solidarity’ through the ideas of ‘authentic Christianity’.
For further information on Knock Summer Youth Festival visit www.knock-shrine.ie/youthfestival, or contact Knock Youth Ministry by telephone on 094 938 8100, 087 692 7850. Alternately you can e-mail [email protected]. Youth Ministry Bebo www.bebo.com/knockyouthministry, www.bebo.com/knockyouthfestival