On the weekend of September 9, 2017 (plus catholic grandparents association Mass on Sunday, September 10, 2017) the Basilica was full to its capacity of 4,600 for the Vincentian Family Ireland annual gathering! Begun by Fr Paul Roche, CM in 1985, it has become a firm fixture in the Vincentian Family calendar to gather on the second Saturday in September. Celebrated by Fr Michael McCullough, CM and supported by 12 other Vincentian and local priests, the 3:00 pm Mass drew us from all over Ireland and groups from England and Kenya too! Students from Castleknock, Dublin Vincentian College distributed the Miraculous Medal to all the pilgrims. The newly installed fresco, made with 1.5 million pieces of hand cut glass and marble, depicting the Apparition of our Lady on August 21, 1879 to 15 local people of all ages, was greatly appreciated.
Our London flight touched down in Knock Airport just after 11:00 am on Saturday, and the proximity to the Basilica and St John’s Pilgrim’s Rest Centre allowed us ample time before Mass to catch up with our fellow AIC members, Daughters of Charity, SVP members and CM Priests over lunch.
Fr Michael’s 20 parishioners from Sacred Heart Parish, Mill Hill, London were delighted to meet AIC members travelling from Dublin, who in turn were so happy to greet two young Kenyan Sisters, Bridget and Irene and share their experiences of working in education and social work. Sister Deb Mallot USA enjoyed her first experience of Knock joined by Sisters Susan Riley and Catherine Mulligan home from Nairobi.
On the Sunday, the National Catholic Grandparents Association Mass was concelebrated by the Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin, the Papal Nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Fr Michael McCullough CM and the other visiting clergy. The Sacrament of the Sick was particularly moving, and the after Communion reflection by the Association’s Founder, Catherine Wiley was encouraging to the Grandparents in supporting the faith of the younger generations. Dana sang the stirring anthem Our Lady of Knock – Queen of Ireland!
We look now to 2018 when Ireland will host Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families – followed by the second Saturday in September Vincentian Family Ireland Pilgrimage in Knock.