Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, and Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, celebrated Mass Friday in the Apparition Chapel in the village of Knock in County Mayo, Ireland. The chapel was built on the the site where Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared to 15 witnesses — young and old — in 1879.
“We’ve come to this holy space, celebrating our faith and praying for all our intercessions that we remember at this Mass,” Fr. Egan said the start.
The Mass and tour of the extensive grounds built up around the shrine were part of a 10 day trip to Ireland. The chance to explore Ireland with the Viatorians drew parishioners from St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson, NV, and Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, including Br. Rob Robertson, CSV.
However, this tour is different from the one they led five years ago. Their journey began in Northern Ireland, and included tours of Belfast and Derry. Along the way, they visited sites of the violence, or “troubles,” between the Loyalists and the Republicans. But they also heard of the vast improvements to the country since the peace agreement was reached in 1998.
Still, visiting the site of the apparition and calling on Our Lady of Knock to bless them as pilgrims, was a highlight.
“Today, we gather to think of Mary in our life,” Fr. Rinn said in his homily. “We have the simplest prayer to her in the ‘Hail Mary,’ which when said slowly and thoughtfully can make all the difference in the world.”
For Fr. Egan, the trip is a personal one, since his mother’s family came from County Mayo. Yet, coming to Knock, where the apparition occurred, and has drawn two popes to visit, including Pope Francis in 2018, remains as powerful as ever.
“As pilgrims, seeking Mary’s intercession,” Fr. Egan said, “we pray that we have open hearts and open ears, and may know the power of God’s grace.”