Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam together with Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine led a group of parishioners and staff from Knock to the special ceremony marking the first Sunday of the Word of God on 26 January.
In his letter Aperuit Illis, Pope Francis made the annual appointment, which is to always fall on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. “Aperuit illis”, to be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, and to be dedicated to the celebration, study and spreading of the Word of God.
Pope Francis says we need God’s Word so that we can hear, amid the thousands of other words in our daily lives, that one word that speaks to us not about things, but about life. His call to the faithful comes during Holy Mass to celebrate the first Sunday of the World of God.
Today Jesus speaks those same words to you: ‘Take heart, I am here with you, allow me to enter and your life will change.”
By special invitation, the new Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Knock was present at the altar in St Peters Basilica during the celebration. Pope Francis paused for a moment to bless the statue and for a quiet moment of prayer.
The Schola Cantorum Basilicae choir from Knock Shrine, under the direction of Úna Nolan performed the much-loved ‘Our Lady of Knock’ hymn. This is the first time that the Shrine has had such a strong presence during a Papal Mass in St Peters. Gifts and readings were carried out by Knock parishioners who felt honoured to take part of the liturgy of such a special Mass.
Present and concelebrating during the Mass was a large group of priests from the Irish College in Rome. Also present among this group were also Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, Bishop Duignan of Clonfert, Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine.
There were also over 150 parishioners from Knock and the surrounding area who travelled to Rome, wanting to be a present for this special occasion in the history of the Shrine.
After the Mass, those present were given a free copy of the Bible in a symbolic gesture of encouragement to make room, each day, in their lives for the Word of God.
Images: Sinéad Mallee