By Grainne Treanor - 06 May, 2017
Knock Shrine is to lead the first pilgrimage to New York, starting this Monday, 8 May 2017. The pilgrims are due to return on 14 May. The flight will depart at 1.45 pm from Ireland West Airport (Knock) on an Aer Lingus flight direct to JFK International.
The seven-day pilgrimage will be led by Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to have the remains of the youngest witness to the Knock apparition reinterred at Old St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.
A special requiem Mass will be celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan at 11 am on Saturday 13 May at Old St Patrick’s Cathedral, 263 Mulberry St, New York.
John Curry was only five years old when he, along with fourteen others, witnessed an apparition on the gable wall of the parish church in Knock on 21 August 1879. The Commission of Enquiry into the apparition records that “The child says he saw images, beautiful images, the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph. He could state no more than that he saw the fine images and the light, and heard the people talk of them, and went upon the wall to see the nice things and the lights.”
John Curry later emigrated to the US. Records show that he ended up living with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Manhattan. He died in 1943 was buried in Pine Lawn Cemetery, Long Island.
Earlier this year, Fr Gibbons travelled to New York and spoke to Catholicireland.net from there, saying that through research he had undertaken into the burial of the witnesses, he had discovered that the John Curry had been buried in Long Island. While the exact location of the grave was known, there was no headstone.
Two years ago, when Cardinal Dolan led the first pilgrimage from New York to Knock, Fr Gibbons asked the Cardinal: “If I get a headstone and put it over the grave will you come out and bless it with me?” The Cardinal replied that he could do better than that – he could bring the remains of John Curry to St Patrick’s.
Speaking of the pilgrimage, Fr Gibbons said: “It is a great honour bestowed by the Archbishop of New York for Knock Shrine and for John Curry’s family to have his remains transferred to the historic centre of the Irish. It will recognise Johh Curry’s place as a witness and native of Knock and also pay tribute to others like him, the ‘forgotten Irish’ who faced the desolation of leaving home never to return.”