By Cian Molloy - 24 July, 2017
RTÉ sports commentator and television personality Marty Morrissey will be one of the guest speakers at this year’s National Novena to Our Lady of Knock which starts on Monday 14 August.
The former ‘Clare Man of the Year’ will speak at both the 3pm and 8.30pm ceremonies in Our Lady’s Basilica on the third day of the Novena, Wednesday 16 August.
The theme for Marty’s addresses will be ‘Living Life to the Full’, where he will outline his personal outlook on life and how his positive attitude has helped him in both his career and his personal life.
Indeed, there is a minor sporting theme to Wednesday’s Knock Novena activities, as Fr Kevin O’Gormon SMA, who lectures in moral theology at Maynooth, will be giving workshops on ‘Sport, Virtue and Life’ at noon and at 6pm. Fr O’Gorman is the author of Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality, which explores key questions about our experience of sport and how it is portrayed in the media.
The Novena starts with a much more traditional theme, when Dr Mary Healy, professor of sacred scripture at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, will be speaking about ‘Life to the Full, Jesus the Healer’ and giving workshops on ‘Praying for Healing’.
On Tuesday, Fr Seamus Enright CSsR, the Rector of Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick, will speak on ‘Mary, giver of life and joy’.
On Thursday, those who have given the gift of life through organ donation will be remembered, and the guest speaker will be Bernadette McNeive, a native of Knock, who organised the first ever Mass for Organ Donors at the shrine after her son Matthew received a kidney transplant at the age of 11. Workshops on the day will be given by Darren Cawley, a motivational speaker who regularly talks about his experiences of living with kidney failure.
On Friday 18 August, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry Patrick Rooke will give a talk on ‘The Reformation 500 years on’ and Professor Salvador Ryan of Maynooth will give workshops on the topic, ‘Was the Reformation a great misunderstanding?’
The retired Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce will reflect on Our Lady’s role in God’s plan for our lives in a talk on Saturday entitled ‘My Spirit rejoices in God, my saviour’ and Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin will talk on Sunday on the subject ‘Making our families Christian’.
There is also a domestic theme to the talks on Monday 21 August at 3.00pm and 8.30pm, when Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin will give addresses that will focus on the joys and challenges of family life – the title for his talks is ‘When Plates Fly: Pope Francis on the joys and challenges of family life’. The workshops on the day will be given by Fr Timothy Bartlett, secretary general for the World Meeting of Families 2018, on the topic ‘Glued to our phones: can we make technology more family-friendly?’
The last day of the Novena will focus on the gift of life and our duty as Christians to protect life, with Maria Steen of the Iona Institute talking about ‘Cherishing Life to the Full’ and Pro Life Campaign member Cora Sherlock giving workshops on ‘Cherishing Life: a human rights issue’.
The Knock Novena is one of the greatest spiritual and cultural events in Irish life today, with more than 10,000 pilgrims taking part in events at the Marian Shrine in Mayo over the nine days of the event.