Excitement building locally ahead of Pope’s visit

A STRABANE priest has described the Pope’s imminent visit to Ireland as a time of “joy, expectation and hope”.   

Next month, Pope Francis will pay a landmark visit to Croke Park, Phoenix Park and the Marian Shrine at Knock, Co Mayo and will be joined by spectators from across Ireland including Fr Declan Boland from the Church of the Immaculate Conception and numerous local individuals. 

The visit marks the first papal trip to Ireland in nearly 40 years, which according to Fr Boland, is generating significant interest within his parish and beyond. 

“We have organised a bus to the Mass at Phoenix Park and several people have expressed interest,” Fr Boland said. “Other parishes have also organised buses, and no doubt there will also be numerous people making their own way to the event.

“Tickets only became available last week. Quite a lot of people will be attending Knock in particular and suffice to say there is considerable excitement building locally about the Pope’s visit.”

According to Fr Boland, next month’s visit represents a momentous opportunity for local people.

“This is a great opportunity to meet a charismatic Pope who speaks an inclusive language. It isn’t everyday people across Ireland get this opportunity. The people pope who continually speaks for the oppressed, marginalised and abandoned, and has proven time and time again to practice what he preaches.”

Fr Boland says much has changed within Ireland in the four decades since the last papal visit back in 1979.

“In the South, there has been a huge change since the last papal visit, such as same-sex marriage, and we are now a church living in a modern context. However, I firmly believe the gospel has remained the same and the same spirit is with the church as it was nearly 40 years ago.”


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