Knock Shrine is getting ready to welcome the Archbishop of New York, His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is coming to Mayo on August 9 on an historic transatlantic flight into Ireland West Airport Knock.
Cardinal Dolan is to officially launch the annual national novena at Knock Shrine, which starts on August 14 and is expected to bring in excess of 150,000 pilgrims to the Marian Shrine over nine days.
Cardinal Dolan is leading a pilgrimage from New York, which is travelling to Mayo on the first ever chartered pilgrimage flight operated by Aer Lingus into IWAK.
Fr Richard Gibbons, Rector, Knock Shrine, expressed his delight at the development.
“This will be a momentous and historic occasion, not only for Knock Shrine but for the west of Ireland," said Fr Gibbons.
"It is hoped that this will be the first of many organised pilgrimages into Knock Airport over the coming years as it is a wonderful opportunity for pilgrimage groups to connect with their faith at Ireland’s national shrine.
"One of our great hopes is that the upcoming pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of New York will inspire many others to make the journey home, to have the opportunity to have the unique experience of pilgrimage at Knock Shrine.”
The flight from New York is a major boost to Knock Shrine's Witness to Hope initiative, a project aimed at promoting Knock Shrine at home and abroad.
The theme for this year's Novena is Faith and Family and Cardinal Dolan will deliver a talk on that theme on the opening day of the novena.
Over the following nine days, there will be both a local and international flavour to the novena programme.
Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for Migration, is to speak on 'Our Responsibility toward the Human Family’ on Monday August 17. The talk will address some of the contemporary issues around immigration.
Other speakers at the Novena include the Archbishop of Armagh Most Rev Eamon Martin, Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, and Mayo poet John F Deane.
Saturday (August 15 ), a day traditionally known as 'Walkers Day', will see organised walks from Aghamore, Balla, Facefield, and Cultibo to Knock Shrine who will gather for Mass at 6am in Knock Parish Church.
For more information on dates, times, and locations of talks and workshops, visit www.knockshrine.ie, find Knock Shrine on Facebook and Twitter or telephone the Knock Shrine Office on (094 ) 93 88100.