By Lydia O’Kane
The Archdiocese of Tuam situated in the west of Ireland is the largest diocese in the country and contains the Knock Shrine and the famed Croagh Patrick mountain. It also has an enviable list of Saints including Jarlath of Tuam, Colman of Inisboffin, Enda of Aran, and Benin of Kilbannon.
The diocese will take centre stage on Sunday when Pope Francis visits Knock to pray for all the families of the world.
Knock a shrine of hope
The present Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary says, that ever since the apparition there in 1879 Knock has been a place of hope for pilgrims and this continues to this day. “The apparition was a silent apparition, there were no words spoken, but that apparition gave hope and comfort and consolation to the people at the time… and likewise today there is a recognition that Knock has something special to offer, that people coming here are coming in search of hope and meaning and a purpose in life.”
Challenges to the family
The Archbishop notes that the challenges facing family life today are not only to be found in urban areas in Ireland. In rural areas too, he adds, there is a sense of what he calls “fragmentation” in family life. In his own diocese and in the country in general Archbishop Neary says, “we are living in a culture where there is such an emphasis on success and very often that emphasis on success encourages an individualistic approach rather than a collaborative one.”
Rekindling the faith
In recent years the Church in Ireland has been rocked by terrible stories of clerical sexual abuse which has undermined people’s faith and the trust they have in the Church. Addressing this, the Archbishop expresses the hope that this visit of Pope Francis to Ireland will rekindle people’s faith and hope again.
Pope Francis visits Knock Shrine as part of his Apostolic Visit to Ireland on Sunday 26th of August.