Bishops welcome first International Pilgrimage of deaf people to Knock

19 May 2006


19 MAY 2006



The first ever international pilgrimage of deaf people to the national Marian
Shrine takes place today and tomorrow.

The pilgrimage will have many highlights, including the meeting between Irish
and German Deaf people on Friday and Saturday. Fr Joe Jones, Director of the
National Chaplaincy for Deaf People, said: “We in the Chaplaincy are very excited
about the prospects of meeting with the German group this weekend in Knock. Irish
people will be travelling to Knock from the neighbouring counties and also from
Dublin, Cork, Kerry and Belfast. I expect around 200 people to attend this event.”

The German pilgrims – the majority of them deaf – from the three dioceses Rottenburg-
Stuttgart, Frelburg and Speyer, will be led by the Auxiliary Bishop of Rottenburg-
Stuttgart, Thomas Maria Renz. Bishop Renz said: “I hope that our pilgrims can
experience in Ireland the beauty and the value of life, enjoy the surprises of a
new country and be open for new acquaintances. May our Christian faith in a God who
loves the world help us to achieve this.”

Fr Jones said: “This initiative will be a great opportunity for sharing and discussing
together and will enable us to look at the similarities in our Deaf culture and our
Sign-Language. Social interaction is so important for all people, but especially for
the Deaf community, as it gives a sense of identity and belonging.

“It will also be an opportunity for praying together and exploring issues of our faith
and our spirituality and to share our religious experience with each other. The element
of fun is also important as we look forward to enjoying the time we spend with each other.
On Saturday, 12 workshops will enable the German and Irish pilgrims to look at different
aspects of faith and share their experience.”

On Saturday evening, a concelebrated Mass will take place at the Apparition Gable at
15:15 pm, and the chief celebrant will be the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley
and he will be assisted by Bishop Renz and other chaplains to the Deaf community.
Bishop Buckley is the representative for Deaf people at the Irish Episcopal Conference.

The main organiser of the German group, Permanent Deacon Karl Josef Arnold explained
why Deaf people love Knock so much: “For deaf people the non-verbal message of Knock
is a very special sign. They cannot hear, so they would not be able to understand a
spoken message. For them, the hearing, and the seeing of the heart is so important –
they need signs.

“Deaf people live in a different world to that of people who can hear, they have their
own language, their own way of thinking. The unspoken message of Knock is therefore
precisely a message for people who cannot hear.”

Notes for Editors

* Media representatives are invited to attend the concelebrated Mass on Saturday at the
Apparition Chapel in Knock. Please see for more information on
the National Chaplaincy for Deaf People.

* On Friday next the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, will speak to the gathering
– in both English and German – in a prerecorded video message.

* During their stay at Knock the German group will climb Croagh Patrick, visit Mulranny
and Achill Island, spend a day on Lough Derg, visit the Holy Well at Sligo and spend a
day in Tuam and Galway. The final highlight will be the concluding Mass on Monday, 22
May at 9:00 am with Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, in the Blessed Sacrament
Chapel in Knock.

For further information:

Mr Martin Long, Director Catholic Communications Office, 086 1727678
Fr Joe Jones, 087 2207868
Ms Dagmar Kolata, Main Organiser, 086 3737063