Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will lead a pilgrimage to Knock, Co Mayo from New York for the annual Novena at Ireland's holiest shrine. Cardinal Dolan will say the Mass to open the Novena on August 14. The Mass will be dedicated to “Faith and Family.”

When Cardinal Dolan's participation in the Novena was first announced he said, “It will be an honor for me to travel to the West of Ireland and open Ireland’s National Public Novena.”

He added that the “National Novena honoring Our Lady attracts thousands of pilgrims to this beautiful land and the pilgrimage town of Knock every August; the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

This year’s national novena will see the first diocesan pilgrimage from New York which will bring up to 200 pilgrims from the United States for a week-long visit. The transatlantic pilgrimage flight from JFK Airport will include Cardinal Dolan. In what the airport hopes will become a regular service, the Aer Lingus flight will depart New York on Saturday, August 9 and return on August 16.

The eight day visit to Ireland includes a specially tailored Pilgrimage program encompassing some of Ireland’s most historic spiritual sites, including the historic visit to Knock Shrine to open and participate in Ireland’s National Public Novena in honor of Our Lady of Knock.

This new development for the Ireland West Airport Knock and the shrine was announced by Fr Richard Gibbons, parish priest at Knock, and comes as a major redevelopment of the Marian Shrine continues. There are plans to update the basilica and enhance the promotional effort to entice visitors from Europe and America to visit the shrine.

Other key participants during the Novena include Archbishop Michael Neary, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, Harry Casey and Fr Peter Murphy of Accord, as well as Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative on International Migration and Joan Freeman of Pieta House.

Fr. Richard Gibbons, Rector of Knock Shrine, said, “This is a very important and historic step for the promotion of Knock, Ireland’s National Marian Shrine, at home and abroad. It is hugely significant that the Archdiocese of New York, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is deepening its relationship with Knock Shrine and highlighting the spiritual heritage of Irish Americans especially in New York.

“Knock Shrine holds a special place in the hearts of our Diaspora, and in the Catholic tradition, pilgrimage plays a significant role in renewing people’s faith and we are delighted to facilitate that. It is also important to note that Ireland West Airport Knock was built specifically to welcome pilgrims to Knock Shrine as well as to develop the economic life of the West. Monsignor James Horan, I’m sure, would be very proud.”

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New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to take Aer Lingus pilgrimage flight to Ireland along with 200 others.Getty Images