Fr Richard Gibbons might be the driving force behind the dramatic changes taking place at Knock Shrine, but he’s quick to stress that even before he became parish priest in 2012 there was talk that things would have to change.
“The shrine just kind of basically ploughed along as it was doing for a good few years,” he says, explaining that towards the end of his nine years there as curate he and then parish priest Msgr Joseph Quinn took to discussing the future of the shrine.
Following Msgr Quinn’s sudden death from a heart attack at the age of 65, Fr Richard was given the job as parish priest and rector. “We decided to look at the whole place, because we needed to restructure. The financial crisis had caused us problems – we were financially a basket case, with no money and running at a loss. So, we just restructured the whole place from top to bottom, set up committees, got expertise and all that.
“This brought us to look at the whole situation of Knock – what we’re doing, what we’re offering, and where we need to be in terms of the renewal of the Church in the country,” he says.
The first step in this was a wide information-gathering exercise. “We decided then to interview everybody that came here and consult and all the rest of it – every pilgrim, every bishop, priest, religious, parishioner, visitor, everybody! We conducted roughly a year and a half of consultation with everybody,” he says, asking what they thought Knock was and wasn’t doing well, what it could improve on, what more it could do for pilgrims, and in general what it should be doing.
Continue reading what is a very interesting and informative article about the changes at Knock HERE.