By Cian Molloy - 25 April, 2020
A Dublin diocesan e-pilgrimage to Knock takes place tomorrow, Sunday, starting at 2.30 p.m.
The online event, organised jointly by Knock parish priest Fr Richard Gibbons and Dublin-based permanent deacon, the Rev Gerard Riley, is believed to be the first of its kind.
Gerard Riley was one of the first eight men to be ordained as a permanent deacon in 2012. He is normally involved in parish duties at Holy Trinity in Donamede and St Paul’s in Ayrfield, but three years ago Archbishop Martin asked him to take responsibility for organising and promoting Dublin’s annual pilgrimage to Knock.
“We were doing very well,” he says. “We had more than 20 coaches in 2018, which means at least 20 parish groups made the journey, with many more travelling independently by private car.
“Last year, our numbers were significantly up on 2018 and I was really looking forward to seeing how big the increase would be this year. But then COVID-19 came along.”
Having already created a sense of anticipation about the event, Rev Riley contacted Knock parish to discuss the possibility of organising an alternative online event. He found that Fr Gibbons had been thinking along the same lines and was about to make a similar proposal to the diocese.
“We have put a programme together to make a proper occasion of it,” said Riley. “Knock has invested well in internet technology and cameras, so they can provide an excellent online experience.
“Yes, we don’t have the experience of a communal journey together, which is something that people really enjoy about pilgrimages, so it’s not perfect, but it is better than doing nothing.”
The pilgrimage begins with a Recitation of the Rosary at 2.30 p.m., followed by a Pilgrimage Mass celebrated by Knock PP Fr Gibbons. There will be a benediction at 3.45 p.m. followed by a virtual visit to the Apparition Chapel. Online viewers will also have the opportunity to place a petition before Our Lady, to light a candle or to arrange to have a Mass said for their own intention.
“We have all been going through a tough time,” said the reverend deacon. “Old people in particular haven’t been able to get out. Hopefully, this will provide an outlet for them and also provide us with a bit of encouragement.”
Archbishop Martin commented: “We would like to encourage as many people as possible to join us in prayer at this time. In this time of difficulty and so many challenges, the virtual pilgrimage will give us an opportunity to pray through the intercession of Our Lady of Knock for all our intentions. Please God, we will be in a position to visit Knock again in person in the not too distant future.”