On Wednesday 31 May, the Feast of the Visitation and the last day of the Marian month of May, the Catholic Church in Ireland united in prayer with Marian Shrines around the world to pray for the work of the upcoming Universal Synod, placing it under the protection of Our Lady, Mother of God and Mother of the Church. Following the invitation from the Secretariat of the Synod, the National Steering Committee of the Irish Synodal Pathway together with Knock Shrine, Ireland’s Eucharistic and Marian Shrine, prepared this special day of prayer. Father Richard Gibbons, Rector of Knock Shrine, welcomed everyone to the Apparition Chapel for a prayer service at 11.00am, which included the placing of petitions at the feet of Our Lady by children from the local Catholic primary school in Knock. Mass was then celebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady at 12.00pm. The chief celebrant was Archbishop Francis Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam.
Father Declan Hurley, co-chair of the National Steering Committee, proclaimed the Gospel account of the Visitation in Luke’s Gospel. During his homily he said, “In his Regina Caeli address last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis announced that today, the Feast of the Visitation, would be a worldwide day of prayer for the Synod that will take place in Rome in October, and he said, ‘Let us ask the Virgin Mary to accompany this important stage of the synod with her maternal protection’.”
Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, celebrated the evening Mass following the Rosary at 7.00pm in the Parish Church in Knock. Bishop Brendan said, “Here at Knock … we can recall how the great saint Louis de Montfort and many theologians have underlined how the Holy Spirit works closely with Mary, Our Lady, in generating from age to age the community that is the Church. As de Montfort puts it, where Mary is to be found, the Spirit comes rushing in.”
Bishop Leahy concluded, “I would invite you and all who pray, personally or as a family, the Rosary to dedicate the second joyful mystery, the Visitation, for the intention of the Synodal wellbeing of the Church. Yes, because the encounter of Mary and Elizabeth, Jesus and John the Baptist remind us of the deeper relationships in the Spirit to which synodality calls us all.”