The National Novena to Our Lady of Knock runs until 22 August. This annual prayer gathering at the national Marian Shrine offers an opportunity to all to step away from everyday life and immerse in prayer in the beautiful, peaceful grounds of Knock, Co Mayo. For this year’s nine-day Novena, the Council for Vocations of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference prepared a special initiative that was unveiled yesterday, Thursday, 17 August, the Feast of Our Lady of Knock.
Yesterday, a special prayer ceremony took place to mark both the current Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood, as well as the centrality of the Marian Shrine as a holy place of pilgrimage and prayer for generations of Catholics in Ireland and from abroad. This ceremony involved representatives of each of the twenty-six dioceses on the island coming together with pieces of a cross, each with a separate diocesan name, to build a dedicated Cross for Vocations. Pilgrims witnessed Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan blessing the new Cross and leading prayers for an increase in vocations to the diocesan priesthood. The structure for the new cross has been designed by deacon Brendan Gallagher from Co Waterford.
Ahead of the ceremony Bishop Cullinan said, “there are people praying consistently for priestly vocations all around the country. This event on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Knock honours this fervent and sincere desire. Pope Francis has encouraged us to renew our prayer and trust that God will inspire this way of life in the hearts young men throughout Ireland. The Lord commands us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to work for the harvest. This Thursday people from every corner of Ireland, from every diocese, will gather at our national Shrine to join in prayer to God for an increase in vocations to diocesan priesthood, to highlight the need for priests and to encourage men to generously consider this particular calling in life. I am very much looking forward to joining with all the delegates who have been commissioned in each diocese to carry the prayers of the priests and people with them to Knock and to pray together for many new vocations to the priesthood.”
This year’s Knock Novena involves daily guest speakers offering insights on a variety of topics, from personal faith stories to responding to a changing world. The theme for the 2023 Novena is ‘Caring for Creation.’