SARA STANTON ORGANIZES
7-DAY PILGRIMAGE TO
KNOCK, CO. MAYO
Sara Stanton, owner of Cara Group Travel in Quincy, is part of an exciting project this summer - the Ireland Pilgrimage: Boston to Knock. The fully escorted, customized tour takes place July 14-21, 2016, visiting Ireland’s most famous religious shrine, Knock in County Mayo. We caught up with Sara to find out more.
What a great idea, to bring Bostonians to Knock on this spiritual journey. Tell us how the idea started and about your own involvement.
In 1993 I flew home on one of the first charters from New York’s JFK Airport to Knock Airport. As the plane was landing it was very quiet and still; in all fairness we were technically landing in the bog which is what Knock airport is built on. It was a tad dark as there weren’t many lights at the airport, but all of a sudden we were down and the whole plane erupted into applause and excitement.
We disembarked and saw crowds of people, typical Irish…they were just as excited to see us as we were to be there. It was truly one of the best flights I ever experienced.
This year, I’m delighted to be part of the first-ever charter flight from Boston to Knock. When I first heard that this might happen, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this exciting trip. I’m helping to coordinate the trip for 170 people from the Boston/New England region.
Knock is a very special place, not only as part of my history but for the millions of devoted Catholics across the globe and in particular, the Irish Catholics of the US. Knock represents a miracle. It captures the power and spirit of a faith that has stood the test of time and recovered from the Penal Laws of Ireland’s not so distant past.
Tell us your memories of growing up in County Mayo and your memories about Knock.
I remember Pope John Paul II visiting Knock in 1979 and waiting patiently with thousands of other people for the Pope Mobile to pass by - I was 8 years old. I will never forget how kind everyone was to each other. We would often go to Knock to stock up on Holy Water because you couldn’t run out! To be there for the dedication of the Basilica and its 40th anniversary will be another memory to cherish.
So yes this is personal, exciting and very important to me. I am happy to share with you why I know you will fall in love with Knock, County Mayo, Ireland and all the wonderful people you will meet on this historic event....
Who are some of the people taking the trip?
Cardinal Seán O’Malley has been invited to lead the celebrations in Knock. See welcoming video here from Cardinal O'Malley. We are also thrilled to have Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who has a very personal connection with Knock, as well as Ray Flynn, former US Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston. In addition, we have parishioners from throughout the Archdiocese of Boston and indeed, throughout New England.
In addition to the Knock portion of the trip, what else is on the itinerary?
You can’t visit Ireland without taking in a little sightseeing. The West of Ireland has so much to offer with its beautiful coastline. After three nights in Mayo, travelers have the choice of going north to Donegal & Derry, visiting places like Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port, Derry City & the iconic Giants Causeway. Alternatively, participants can head south for a couple of nights, visiting Galway City while taking in Connemara & the Cliffs of Moher.
We all then return back to Mayo for a final blessing in Knock and a farewell evening of fun and entertainment before returning back to Boston. Both programs are fully escorted with professional Irish driver guides so you just have to sit back and enjoy.
What would you say to people thinking of going?
Some people call it a tour, a pilgrimage, a 6 night package; to me it will be a trip of a lifetime.