Huge crowds flock to Knock for novena
ONE of the biggest crowds for many years attended the special Mass for the Consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Knock Shrine last Thursday, August 15. Local people said they had seen nothing like it since the day Mother Teresa visited the Shrine back in 1993. The ceremony coincided with the annual Novena which got under way last Wednesday.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, in his homily during the Mass, said the women of Ireland have played the central role in handing on the faith in this country. “They have been our chief evangelists, the educators and stalwarts of the faith. They have built a ‘civilisation of love’ here in Ireland. They have been outstanding in their commitment to family and to faith and in the example they give of how to be understanding, forgiving, merciful, humble and caring. In many ways their witness to selfless love teaches us men how to be better fathers, brothers, grandfathers, husbands, single men, priests and bishops.
“I thank God especially today for the ‘yes’ that women give to unborn children. Like Mary, they become partners in God’s creation. They unselfishly say ‘yes’ to new life despite all the tiredness and discomfort of pregnancy, the soreness and nausea, the worries and disruption it can bring.”
He called for a new awakening and a mission to transform from within. Following the Mass the Consecration of Ireland to Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was led by Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Episcopal Conference.
The Novena, which has been attracting full congregations for the twice daily sessions in the Basilica (3pm and 8.30pm) continues today (Tuesday) when the homily will be delivered by Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Maynooth.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 21, the anniversary of the 1879 Apparition, is expected to witness the second largest gathering of the Novena as this date has long been special for pilgrims visiting Knock. The Rector of Knock Shrine, Fr Richard Gibbons, PP, will address the congregations at both sessions.
The speaker on the final day of the Novena (Thursday 22) is Fr Gerry Fitzpatrick, Carmelite Monastery, Derry. It is expected that close on 150,000 people will have visited Knock Shrine by the close of the 2013 Novena
The Novena, which is the busiest time of the season in Knock, provides a huge boost to the local economy with all accommodation booked out and restaurants and shops doing major business. Neighbouring towns like Claremorris, Ballyhaunis, Kiltimagh and Charlestown also benefit substantially, especially in the services related industry.