All roads lead to Knock for all-Ireland celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress

Saturday June 25, 2011

  • Thousands attend National Eucharistic Congress celebration at Marian Shrine in Knock

  • National Eucharistic Congress marks one year countdown to the 2012 International Congress

  • Eucharistic Congress candles to be blessed, lit and returned to each of to the 26 diocesan cathedrals

The Catholic Church in Ireland is marking the one-year countdown to next year's 50th International Congress by hosting a National Eucharistic Congress at the Marian Shrine in Knock today.

Thousands of people, from parishes all over the country, have travelled to Knock this weekend to participate in the National Eucharistic Congress, the high-point of which will be Mass with the anointing of the sick. The day's activities will also include a series of workshops which are being hosted by organisers of next year's International Eucharistic Congress – see programme below. The National Eucharistic Congress coincides this year with the celebration of the Knock Youth Festival, which has its own dedicated workshops and celebrations.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; His Excellency Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, Apostolic Nuncio; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and President of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012); Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam along with many other Irish bishops and priests; will lead pilgrims from the 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland in a concelebrated Mass at 3pm this afternoon in Knock to mark Ireland's National Eucharistic Congress.

The pilgrims include staff and volunteers of IEC2012. The Eucharistic Congress Bell, which began its journey around the parish of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, has arrived in Knock and will be present during the National Pilgrimage as a symbol of the invitation to faith and to the Eucharist.

The vestments worn by the principal celebrants at today's Mass will feature the four icons which accompany the Eucharistic Congress Bell and which reflect the four stages of the catechesis for next year?s International Eucharistic Congress.

Welcoming pilgrims to the National Eucharistic Congress Cardinal Brady, Principal Presider for the Congress Mass and who will preach the homily, said: “The celebrations in Knock provide an opportunity to remind ourselves that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. The Church events this weekend appeal to the spiritual needs of men and women of all ages and are in keeping with the theme of next year's 50th International Eucharistic Congress which is: "The Eucharistic: Communion with Christ and with one another".

“Today's National Eucharistic Congress, coupled with the celebration of Mass which will take place in every Cathedral around the country tomorrow, both have a common focus on the local community and our pastoral preparation in Ireland ahead of the International Eucharistic Congress next year.

“The International Congress is not just a once-off week of events in 2012, but a journey of renewal. Today the Irish Church is setting out on a new path of healing and renewal, inspired by Pope Benedict XVI's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland of March 2010. The Church needs healing and reconciliation. The Eucharistic Congress offers us the possibility for that.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “The Congress will be an important event in the life of the Universal Church and I hope it will be a vital element in the reform of the Irish Church. The Congress should renew in us a sense of gathering – of community and sharing. It will be a Congress of our times where people will come together to examine what a Church of Communion means for the people of the Church and what role the Church should have in wider society.”

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