Knock Shrine adult faith formation course part of new online/in-person event programme

28 Sep 2023

[Photo Caption: Ms Nicola Mitchell Faith; Father Eugene Duffy and Father Richard Gibbons PP]

  • Timely foundation course ideal for anyone wishing to deepen their faith or involved in parish ministries, diocesan or parish councils

Knock Shrine is inviting people to a new series of faith renewal events, offering the opportunity to reflect and engage in a range of faith-based workshops, discussions, and events.  The programme includes an adult faith formation course, thought-provoking online discussions on the ‘Synod on Synodality’ in the Vatican, a creative and inspirational sacred art workshop in December, as well as the enchanting ‘Carols by Candlelight’ concert and a healing Reconciliation Service.

Especially in the context of the ‘Synod on Synodality’, which will be in session from 4 – 29 October, this timely programme has been developed by the Faith Renewal Council at Knock Shrine to offer people the opportunity to explore their faith and to engage in discussion and reflection of contemporary Church issues.
Father Richard Gibbons PP, Rector of Knock Shrine, said, “These faith renewal events aim to encourage and help people in their faith.  Our programme has been designed to have a broad appeal, and so is wide-ranging in content.  We offer something for everybody, and we welcome and encourage people to take part.”
The timing of the programme is to help deepen the Christian’s journey through the holy seasons of Advent and into Christmas.  Nicola Mitchell, the Faith Renewal Co-ordinator at Knock Shrine, and member of the Faith Renewal Council, said, “We are delighted to launch this new programme for the autumn and winter season as it provides people with the opportunity to engage in a variety of faith events both in-person and online.  It is the perfect time of year to engage in a new course or workshop to enrich our faith as we journey through Advent.  With the Synod in Rome in mind, we felt that it was important to focus on faith renewal events in the hope that there will be something of relevance to everyone.”
Programme of events
Father Eugene Duffy, a priest of the Diocese of Achonry, will kick-start the new faith renewal programme with What Do We Know About Jesus?, an evening faith formation course that will focus on the life of Christ.  It will provide a foundation for those who want to deepen their own faith and be in a position to share it with others.  The course will run on Tuesday evenings from 3 October until 21 November at Saint John’s Welcome Centre.  Participants are invited to register online at Eventbrite, and further details are available on
Father Eugene is currently the Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Development and Renewal in Achonry.  He previously taught theology at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, ATU Galway and All Hallows College, Dublin.  Father Eugene said, “The programme would be an ideal foundational course for those engaged in Parish Ministries, Diocesan or Parish Pastoral Councils.”  Other aspects of the programme will include:

  • The Synod on SynodalityReflecting on the Proceedings in Rome’, will involve a series of online discussions with distinguished participants of the Synod. During these online discussions, they will share their expertise and insights with other notable experts to help develop an understanding of the key outcomes of the assembly in Rome.  It is hoped that the conversations will be of particular interest to members of Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils, as well as to the general public. 
     While dates have yet to be confirmed, it is expected that this series will begin in November and will be streamed on
  • In December, Dr Nora Donnelly will host a sacred art workshop entitled Seeing is Believing: Reflecting on Art as a Glimpse of the Sacred.  These illustrated lectures will take place over two consecutive Saturday mornings in the peaceful surrounds of the Taizé Room in the Prayer Centre at Knock Shrine.  Using well-known works of art to explore depictions of the sacred in art, the lectures will focus on works relating to Mary, the Holy Family and the Nativity.  It is hoped that these images will open the door to a deeper, broader, and more reverend understanding of what Christmas can mean to the thinking Christian.  Nora is an educator and art critic as well as an artist.  She has taught both at primary and university levels, and has written extensively about the value of art as an experience to humankind.
  • Other events will include the annual November Remembrance Mass, and the all-night Vigil in celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception beginning on the night of 7 December and which will go into the early hours of 8 November on the theme ‘A Light to Enlighten the World.’  The much-loved Carols by Candlelight will take place at Knock Basilica on 17 December, followed by the Advent Reconciliation Service on 19 December.


Notes for Editors

At about 8.00pm on Thursday 21 August 1879, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of the Church at Knock, Co Mayo.  Beside them, and a little to the right, was an altar with a cross and the figure of a lamb, around which angels hovered.  Fifteen official witnesses – young and old – experienced this silent and miraculous apparition for two hours in pouring rain and recited the Rosary.  In 1879 and in 1936 two Commissions of Inquiry accepted their testimony as trustworthy and satisfactory.  Today, Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and has been visited by Saint Pope John Paul II during his 1979 apostolic pilgrimage, and in 2018 by Pope Francis as part of the celebrations for the IX World Meeting of Families in Ireland.  On 19 March 2021, Pope Francis officially recognised Knock as an International Marian Shrine through the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation.  Archbishop Francis Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam, is the custodian of the Marian Shrine and Father Richard Gibbons is parish priest of Knock and rector of the shrine.