The annual Knock Novena takes place next week ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the Shrine as part of his tour of Ireland.
This is the 41 annual Novena to Our Lady of Knock, and in honour of the soon-to-be guest, the theme this year is ‘Faith & Family’ and will draw from Pope Francis’ writings in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).
While the Knock Novena began as way to simply highlight the importance of the shrine and the role of Mary in Catholics lives, in the years since it has grown to include talks and workshops every day.
Fr. Richard Gibbons, Rector of the Shine, thinks it’s important to give pilgrims to engage with topics of faith and issues that face the Catholic Church today.
““The daily celebrations, sermons and processions are a very important part of the Novena tradition, however in recent years we have noticed a greater desire from pilgrims for discussion, reflection and the chance to engage on contemporary Church issues.
“The daily workshops which are help throughout the Novena give them the opportunity to do that. We also have a Bookshop here in the Shrine which is a wonderful resource for those that want to deepen aspects of their faith or to simply learn more about different ways of praying and other spiritual elements.”
The Knock Novena runs for nine days, starting next week on Tuesday August 12th, and finishing on Wednesday August 22.
Jim Deeds, a writer and broadcaster who works in the Diocese of Down & Connor, will be the opening speaker on Tuesday, talking about guiding principles from God in everyday life, messy or otherwise.
Other speakers will include Archbishop of Tuam the Rev Michael Neary, who will be talking about challenges facing families and how to bring church teachings to the sick, the bereaved, and those with special needs.
Olive Shaughnessy, an author and mother of four from Loughrea, will deliver a talk titles ‘Keeping Faith while living with Sickness’ about her battle with stage 4 cancer and the journey it took her family on.
The book she wrote about her journey, My Olive Branch – my second chance, has so far sold 4,000 copies worldwide.
There’ll be many more speakers every day, but closing out the Novena on Wednesday the 22nd are the Youth Ministry at Knock Shrine, led by there Director Nicola Mitchell.
The Youth Ministry runs school retreats and a summer programme for young people of faith to learn about Knock.
Nicola will be speaking on how the Catholic Church can support young people exploring their faith.
A fill programme of the speakers at this year’s Knock Novena and when their workshops are on can be found here.
“This year’s Novena will end on high as we await the visit of His Holiness and look forward to what will be a splendid and historic day for the Shrine and the village.” said Fr. Gibbons.
Pope Francis will be visiting Knock Shrine on Sunday August 26th as part of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.