For the second year in a row the national novena at Knock Shrine, Co Mayo, is being postponed due to the pandemic.
Parish Priest and Knock rector Fr Richard Gibbons made the announcement on Monday that the novena, scheduled to take place from August 14th to 22nd, will be postponed until later this year.
“We have taken this decision in the interest of the health and safety of our pilgrims and staff here at the shrine. Given the recent concern from both Government and health agencies regarding the Delta variant of the virus, the responsible course of action is to postpone the national novena at this time,” he said.
“It is vital that we allow the national vaccination programme to proceed across all age groups. Once we can safely gather again at Knock Shrine, a full programme will be announced for the novena later in the year,” he said.
Knock remains open, however, with restricted attendance at daily Masses in the Basilica and confessions available daily also, while the Mass enrolment office, Knock Museum and Knock Counselling Centre are open.
Pilgrims "can rest assured that it is a very safe place to visit with every precaution in place to ensure the safety of all visitors. There are queueing systems in place at all public buildings in the shrine grounds and ushers and staff are present to ensure everything is done correctly and in line with Government guidelines," said Fr Gibbons. Details at www.knockshrine.ie
Reek Sunday pilgrimage
Meanwhile, the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick in Mayo is taking place across the month of July this year, from Wednesdays to Saturdays, beginning this week on Wednesday, July 7th. Normally it happens over just one day, the last Sunday of July each year, but due to the pandemic and to help reduce numbers it is being held on a four-day, weekly basis this year.
It means a greater number of priests are needed to climb the Reek on one or more of the pilgrimage dates this month to hear confessions and celebrate Mass on the summit.
Organisers hope to have two priests on the summit on any given day. Any priest making the pilgrimage will have accommodation and breakfast provided in Westport the night before they climb, should they need it.
Priests who may be able to assist are asked to contact Westport parish administrator Fr Charlie McDonnell, at email@example.com the firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 098-28871.
“This year, due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it would be impossible to facilitate the pilgrimage on one day only so I am arranging to greatly extend provision of the sacraments for pilgrims throughout the month of July,” he said.
“Reek Pilgrimage 2021 is an exciting and ambitious project to undertake and will require great generosity on the part of lay volunteers and priests alike. It is wonderful to be in a position to go ahead under very clear health management guidelines and I encourage all pilgrims to enter into it in a way that makes it a success for all involved,” he said.