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Knock to welcome over 100,000 to annual Novena by end of week


Michael Commins

FORTY years since the first Novena at Knock Shrine (Basilica pictured) in 1977, the village is all set to welcome well in excess of 100,000 visitors between now and the close of the 2017 Novena on Tuesday, August 22.
The inaugural Novena back in 1977 was officially opened by Archbishop Joseph Cunnane and the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Knock was composed by Monsignor Joseph Quinn (Parish Priest of Knock 2002-2011).
Dr Mary Healy, professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, was the guest speaker yesterday (Monday), the opening day of the Novena.
Today (Tuesday) will see Knock host thousands of pilgrims and visitors on one of the biggest traditional days of the year at the Shrine. A few hundred people walked through the night from various places including Balla, Kiltimagh, Claremorris, Williamstown, and several from west Roscommon, many arriving in good time for the 6am Mass this morning.
Fr Seamus Enright, CSsR, and Rector of Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick, will speak at both Masses today. Fr Michael Cusack, CSsR, will conduct the daily workshops at 12 noon and 6pm.
Several thousand people are expected to attend both sessions tomorrow, Wednesday, August 16, when well known RTÉ presenter Marty Morrissey will be the guest speaker. The Knock Shrine office has been fielding numerous calls and enquiries in recent days and all indications are that this will be a special day at the Novena with a capacity crowd predicted, especially for the 8.30pm session.
Tipperary native, Fr Kevin O’Gorman, author of ‘Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality’, will be the guest speaker at the workshops on Wednesday.
Knock parishioner Bernadette McNeive is the speaker at the ceremonies on Thursday. The theme of her address is ‘Organ Donation: giving and receiving life.’ Darren Cawley from Aughagower will speak at the two workshops sessions (12 noon and 6pm) on the same day.
To mark 500 years of the Reformation, Rt Revd Patrick Rooke (Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry Diocese- Church of Ireland) will be welcomed to the ceremonies on Friday and he will be joined by Dr Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, who will conduct workshops on this day.
Most Rev Philip Boyce, DD, retired Bishop of Raphoe will deliver the homily on Saturday while writer and theologian, Fr Daniel O’Leary, will facilitate the workshops.
Most Rev Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin will speak during the ceremonies on Sunday and workshops will be facilitated by Dr Aoife McGrath, lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the Pontifical University, Maynooth.
On Monday, Very Rev Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin will be the guest speaker on what is always a special day and night at the Shrine, the anniversary of the Apparition.
On the same day, a special walk will take place to give recognition to all of the people who witnessed the Apparition at Knock on  August 21, 1879.
The Novena concludes on Tuesday, August 22 with Maria Steen, spokesperson for the Iona Institute at the ceremonies and workshops with Cora Sherlock, deputy chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign.
The ceremonies are being 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. They can also be accessed by tuning into Radio Maria Ireland on internet radio.