By Ann Marie Foley - 22 February, 2017
Knock Shrine is to host a one-day conference in advance of the World Meeting of Families 2018 with a presentation from its Secretary General, Fr Timothy Bartlett, on Saturday 8 April.
The day will include testimonies with families, facilitated by Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien, and will be followed by Mass at 3 pm in the Basilica, celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
“[In Knock] we are also looking ahead to 2018 which will be an enormously significant year in the life of the Church. An important aspect of faith renewal is supporting families and doing what we can to help them prepare for it,” said Fr Richard Gibbons, PP, Knock.
This is just one of the many new and established faith events scheduled in Knock Shrine’s 2017 programme. Day retreats, workshops, courses and spiritual concerts are among the events offered to the local community and pilgrims visiting the world famous shrine.
For example, there are ‘Enrichment Days for Parish Ministry’ with John Paul Sheridan and Colette Furlong, aimed at Ministers of the Eucharist and the Word. Training and Formation will take place with Mary Connolly in ‘Leading God’s People in Prayer’ (Part 1 on 6 March; Part 2 on 13 March). ‘Quiet Days for Busy People’ day retreats will take place on 11 March and 29 April.
Deirdre Ní Chinnéide returns to the shrine on Saturday 6 May with a day retreat entitled ‘Resting in the Arms of God’. This is a follow-on from the successful ‘Living in Hope’ retreat which was held last year.
The programme is designed to reach out to an ever wider range of people with topics that are engaging, relevant and challenging.
“There is a clear demand for faith events of a different nature. In addition to daily Masses and ceremonies, pilgrims want to engage on a range of themes and to have interaction and thought-provoking discussion with others. The faith renewal events provide just that, whether one is looking for a quiet contemplative day or a workshop where there is time to engage and share with others,” said Fr Richard Gibbons.
Knock Shrine has 1.5 million visitors annually. There are no collated attendance figures for the newer ‘faith renewal events’.
“This is a new initiative; it only started last year,” Maria Casey, Communications, Marian Shrine, Knock told CatholicIreland.net.
The most successful events last year included the weekend on Mercy titled ‘Engaging the Heart’ and a conference on climate change.
“On the whole, considering it is early days, it is going very well,” said Maria Casey.
Music also features in the Knock Shrine schedule with a ‘Music Workshop for Choirs’ facilitated by the Irish Church Music Association on Thursday 9 March.
The world premiere of an Oratorio in honour of Mary the Mother of God will take place in the Basilica on Saturday 20 May. Composed and conducted by Cormac O’Duffy, it will be performed by a full orchestra and a massed choir drawn almost entirely from local communities and neighbouring counties. Proceeds will go towards the Mayo Roscommon Hospice.
Refurbishment work has facilitated the opening of the Basilica for concerts, and last year it hosted the Concert for Peace with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Ireland’s leading conductor, David Brophy, who was accompanied by talent from across the country, including Sibéal Ní Chasaide who performed Patrick Cassidy’s ‘Mise Éire’.
“This will be the third concert,” said Maria Casey. “Concerts are attracting people from the surrounding counties. They are something new and different that people like to attend.”
The new mosaic, described as the largest of its kind in Europe, is also attracting visitors. It incorporates 1.5 million pieces of individual mosaic tiles, was crafted in Spilimbergo, Italy by Travisanutto, Artisan Mosaic makers, and was designed in Ireland by the renowned illustrator PJ Lynch. It was transported in over 300 sections from Italy to Knock and around 80 per cent of the tiles are made from Venetian glass smalti (traditional hand-cut mosaic glass).
The story of Knock began on the evening of 21 August, 1879 when 15 people from the village of Knock in Co. Mayo witnessed an apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, a lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the parish church. Two Commissions of Enquiry, in 1879 and 1936, accepted their testimony as trustworthy and satisfactory.
The shrine was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979. Today, Knock is listed among the world’s major Marian Shrines.