The National Novena to Our Lady of Knock will have family and life as its focus from 14 – 22 August. The theme for this year’s novena is ‘Living Life to the Full’. During the nine days of prayer and reflection there will be a strong focus on appreciating the gift of life and finding beauty in the everyday.
The programme for this year includes a wonderful line-up of guest speakers and workshops to help enrich and enliven faith. Ceremonies will take place at 3.00pm and 8.30pm and workshops at 12 noon and 6.00pm daily.
The Novena will open on Monday 14 August with Dr Mary Healy, international speaker on scripture and healing, followed by Redemptorists Fr Seamus Enright, CSsR and Fr Michael Cusack, CSsR on Tuesday 15 August.
RTÉ presenter Marty Morrissey will make his debut public appearance at Knock on Wednesday 16 August when he will speak during the 3.00pm and 8.30pm ceremonies. Although best known for his career as a sports commentator and TV personality on RTÉ, Marty Morrissey is also known for his great sense of humour and infectious upbeat personality. Sport will be the topic of the day as workshops will be delivered by Fr Kevin O’Gorman, author of Saving Sport: Sport, Society and Spirituality.
There will be a local flavour on Thursday 17 August with Knock native Bernadette McNeive and professional motivational speaker Darren Cawley who will both deliver moving accounts of their own personal stories of organ donation.
To mark 500 years of the Reformation, Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry will be welcomed for the ceremonies on Friday 18 August. He will be joined by Dr Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth who will conduct the workshops on this day.
One of the main highlights of the Novena will take place on Monday 21 August with the launch of the World Meeting of Families 2018 programme ‘Amoris: Let’s talk Family, Let’s be Family!’. Families representing each diocese will travel to Knock for this special day. A newly-commissioned Icon of the Holy Family will be unveiled and anointed in the Basilica following which, the Icon will travel to each diocese around the country as part of the WMOF2018 celebrations.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and President and Host of WMOF2018, will highlight family life when he offers a reflection on the theme ‘When Plates Fly! Pope Francis on the joys and challenges of family life’. On the same day Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary General of WMOF2018 will deliver workshops on how to make technology more family friendly.
The Novena will come to a close on Tuesday 22nd August with Maria Steen, spokesperson for the Iona Institute speaking in the basilica. Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign will be delivering the workshops.
Fr Richard Gibbons, Parish Priest and Rector of Knock Shrine is looking forward to hosting the annual Novena which continues to be the biggest event in the Shrine’s annual calendar.
Speaking ahead of the Novena, Fr Gibbons said, “The Novena is about embracing our spiritual selves and in today’s world it is a valuable thing to take some time alone or with family and friends to experience the richness of our faith and to escape the material and fast-paced world.”
Knock Shrine are engaging more and more with pilgrims on social media and this year it is planned to have all of the ceremonies 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.