SMA and OLA supporters from all over the country and from our SMA parish in Walthamstow, London gathered at Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock, Co Mayo, for the 34th annual Pilgrimage which concludes our National Novena in honour of Our Lady.
The SMA Provincial Leader, Fr Michael McCabe, was assisted by FVC Directors Fathers Fergus Tuohy (Munster) and Tom Curran (Dublin) as well as bishops-emeriti Rt Revv Tim Carroll SMA (Kontagora, Nigeria) and John Mone (Paisley, Scotland).
Readers at the Mass, those who led us in the Prayers of the Faithful and those who took part in the Offertory procession were drawn from the five FVC parts of Ireland (Connacht, Dublin, Leinster, Munster and Ulster).
The choir from the Mercy Secondary School, Tuam led the singing, under the guidance of Mrs Mary Murphy. Three of the pupils (pictured) led the Responsorial psalm.
A much appreciated feature of the Mass in recent years has been the participation of the priests, Sisters and Brothers from the Loreto House International Formation programme in Dublin. They formed a procession of dancers and singers as one of their number carried the Book of the Gospels to the altar for the proclamation of the Gospel by Fr McCabe.
Bishop Tim Carroll preached on the theme of ‘pilgrimage’. He used an African proverb – life is a market day; heaven is our home – to remind the pilgrims that whilst they had come here to Knock on pilgrimage, we are all engaged on a much longer and more important one – the lifelong pilgrimage back to our Father in heaven.
Read Bishop Carroll’s sermon.
Quoting St Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, “I know that at Nazareth, O Virgin full of grace, you lived poorly, no miracles, nothing but the loving carrying out of daily duties.” the bishop encouraged us all to carry out our daily duties to the best of our abilities. If we do this we will certainly continue our earthly pilgrimage in a wholesome and fruitful way.
A much appreciated feature of the Mass in recent years has been the participation of the priests, Sisters and Brothers from the Loreto House International Formation programme in Dublin.
Mrs Moira Devine, from Donemana, Co Tyrone is anointed by Fr Colum O’Shea SMA.
An important part of our Pilgrimage is the celebration of the Sacrament of Anointing, praying God’s healing touch on those pilgrims who are in particular need of this sacrament at this time. Most of the 47 concelebrants moved through the Basilica anointing those who sought the solace and grace of this sacrament.
After the prayers of invocation etc the priests moved through the congregation anointing those who sought the sacrament.
The OLA Provincial Leader, Sr Kathleen McGarvey, led the Offertory procession.
After the distribution of Holy Communion, the Novena Prayers were led by Fr McCabe after which he blessed all the religious objects and images which people had bought to bring home to family and friends.
By 4.20pm everyone was ready to gather up their bits and pieces and head for the buses or cars they had come in.
Several of the SMA priests also headed for the bus park to express their personal thanks to the pilgrims for coming, to wish them a safe journey home to their families and to give them a blessing to shorten the road.
One group – from the Parish of St Peter the Apostle, Neilstown, Dublin – has maintained its connection with the Society despite the fact that the SMA, who were responsible for the parish for years, had ‘handed back’ pastoral responsibility for the parish in July 2012. We were delighted to see some of the parishioners join with us for our pilgrimage.
Our photos some of the Neilstown group in the Basilica at the end of the Mass.
The day concluded with the gathering up of all the flags, African cloths and posters etc which we used to ‘decorate’ the Shrine area as well as the interior of the Basilica.
We look forward to seeing many of our supporters at our 2015 Pilgrimage – the fourth Saturday in May – 23 May 2015. Hope to see you then.