Over 100,000 people flocked to Knock Shrine for their nine-day annual Novena, and with this year marking the 140th anniversary of the Apparition, some people voiced concerns about the loneliness prevalent in the lives of young people.
Beginning on August 14, featuring a seminar given by former Taoiseach John Bruton, it ends today (August 22) with a talk from Fr Peter McVerry.
Celebrations on August 21, the anniversary of the Apparition, included the unveiling of a new processional statue at the 3pm Mass and a model of Knock village as it was in 1879.
Olive Foley, ambassador for the Children’s Grief Centre in Limerick and wife of the late former Munster Rugby coach Anthony Foley, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin and Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian all spoke during the Novena.
People who attended said they go to feel closer to Our Lady, and feel the shrine is a place of beauty and contemplation. Some of the speakers including Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Mr Bruton spoke of the loneliness many young people experience today.
Alan Bray from Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare, who went to the novena last week, said he felt the issue of loneliness in modern society is particularly important. He said: “The archbishop today, one of the things he talked about was loneliness, what I took out of it was the Irish phrase ‘uaigneas’, which conveys the sentiment and the location of being in a lonely place.” He added millennials seem to be particularly struggling because of uaigneas.
Rosaleen McCooey from Armagh also brought up this issue, saying: “I just think there’s a greater loneliness in society today and I think it’s due to people not attending church and other places, there’s a lot that goes on.
“When you go to church, they tell you about a lot of things that goes on during the week that you don’t know about, community things.”
She added that Confession is particularly important, saying “you can leave everything behind and come out cleansed”.