The national Novena to Our Lady of Knock begins today 14 August at Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock and will continue until Tuesday 22 August. This year’s novena will have family and life as its focus with the theme ‘Living Life to the Full’. During the nine days of prayer and reflection there will be a strong focus on appreciating the gift of life and finding beauty in the everyday.
The programme for this year includes guest speakers and workshops to help enrich and enliven faith. Ceremonies will take place at 3.00pm and 8.30pm and workshops at 12 noon and 6.00pm daily.
The opening guest speaker at this year’s novena is Dr Mary Healy, an international speaker on scripture and healing. The Redemptorist Pilgrimage to Knock will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 15 August, and workshops and celebrations on the day will be led by Redemtorists Fr Seamus Enright CSsR and Fr Michael Cusack CSsR.
RTÉ presenter Marty Morrissey will make his debut public appearance at Knock on Wednesday 16 August when he will speak during the 3.00pm and 8.30pm ceremonies. Sport will be the topic of the day and workshops will be delivered by Fr Kevin O’Gorman, author of Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality.
To mark 500 years of the Reformation, Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry, will be welcomed for the ceremonies on Friday 18 August. He will be joined by Dr Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, who will conduct the workshops on this day.
Bishop Phillip Boyce, Bishop Emeritus of Raphoe, will celebrate Mass at Knock Shrine at 3.00pm on Saturday 19 August, and will speak on the theme ‘My Spirit Rejoices in God, My Saviour’. Bishop Boyce will be joined on the day by Father Daniel O’Leary, a priest of the diocese of Leeds who will offer workshops on the theme ‘We are Treasured and Transformed’.
On Sunday 20 August, Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin will celebrate the 3.00pm Mass in the Basilica. Bishop Doran will speak on the theme ‘Making our families Christian’. Workshops on the day will be led by Dr Aoife McGrath, a lecturer in Pastoral Theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, on the theme of ‘Light through the cracks: life in local communities’.
One of the main highlights of the Novena will take place on Monday 21 August 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.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and President and Host of WMOF2018, will highlight family life when he offers a reflection on the theme ‘When Plates Fly! Pope Francis on the joys and challenges of family life’. On the same day Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of WMOF2018 will deliver workshops on how to make technology more family friendly. Details of the family events taking place on the day can be found on the poster on the right.
Monday 21 August also marks the anniversary of the Apparition at Knock in 1879. To give recognition to all who witnessed the Apparition, a special ‘Witness Walk’ around the village and Shrine grounds will take place at 7.00pm. The walk will end with a minute silence and prayers in the Apparition Chapel at 8pm.
Speaking ahead of the Novena, Father Richard Gibbons, Parish Priest and Rector of Knock Shrine, said, “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 are 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.
For more information and a full list of workshops and guests speakers, please see www.knockshrine.ie, or follow @knockshrine on Facebook and Twitter.