2014 saw a complete redesign of the usual Novena programme with an exciting and varied schedule of daily seminars and workshops on a range of topical issues focused around faith and well-being and delivered by a mix of excellent speakers from Ireland and abroad. We hope to develop these initiatives further in the coming years to provide our visiting pilgrims with variety of faith based programmes for all to become involved. The theme for the 2014 Novena was Witness to Hope which focused on the Witnesses to the Knock Apparition. In light of this, a special ‘Witness Walk’ was held in the 21 August in celebration of the 135th Anniversary of the Apparition. Each of the fifteen witnesses to the Apparition were represented by a person of similar age from the village of Knock. The walk finished at the Apparition Chapel at 8 o’clock, the exact time that the Apparition was first seen on the 21st August 1879. Each of the witnesses representatives were invited into the Shrine accompanied by Fr. Richard and Fr. Patrick Burke. Many who were gathered felt honoured to be a part of such a special event to remember those who are so central to the story of the Apparition at Knock.
Great plans are already underway for 2015 with the recent announcement of the first Diocesan Pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of New York to Knock Shrine. Fr. Richard Gibbons, Rector, Knock Shrine expressed his delight at this recent development, “This is a very important and historic step for the promotion of Ireland’s Shrine at home and abroad. It is hugely significant that the Archdiocese of New York led by cardinal Timothy Dolan, are deepening their relationship with Knock Shrine and highlighting the spiritual heritage of Irish Americans, especially in New York. Knock Shrine holds a special place in the hears of our diaspora and in the Catholic tradition, pilgrimage plays an important role in renewing people’s faith and we are delighted to facilitate that.”