Fr. Laurence Gallagher, Mount Saint Alphonsus Redemptorist Church, Limerick at the Children’s Novena, a special celebration with a blessing for babies and young children, hosted by the Redemptorist Church, as part of Solemn Novena. Photo: Oisin McHugh/True Media.
100,000 People Expected to Attend Solemn Novena Celebrations
On the morning of Friday, June 16th the first hymns of the annual Solemn Novena celebrations could be heard, echoing from the Redemptorist Church in the city.
The first prayer sessions started at 7 am at Mount St Alphonsus, which garnered a “packed house” according to organisers. And until June 24, it is expected that up to 100,000 people from across the Mid-West will travel to the South Circular Road church to pray to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
In 1977, the Limerick Leader described the Solemn Novena celebration as one the largest religious events in Western Europe. And, according to Redemptorist rector Fr. Seamus Enright, that billing remains — describing it as “the Munster final of religion”.
This year’s festivities will have a number of firsts, including their multimedia marketing campaign; the extension of novena prayers to the 250 inmates of Limerick Prison; and themed focus on modern family life.
Fr. Enright said that the emphasis on family will act as preparation for the triennial World Meeting of Families event in Dublin in 2018, where it is hoped that Pope Francis will attend.
“The definition of family isn’t as simple as it was in the past. As well as married couples, there are couples who are living together, lone parents, couples who are divorced and remarried, same-sex couples, single people living on their own, and so on. And this variety of family combinations brings a lot of challenges,” Fr Enright said.
There were a huge number of loyal novena followers, who considered this year’s celebration a “special one” because of the theme ‘Home is You and Me’.
Gary and Teresa Lawlor said that they used to bring their children to the annual event every year. When asked what family meant to them, Mr Lawlor replied, with a smile: “Family means everything to me. If you haven’t got family, you have nothing.”
A number of highlights of the week have included the blessing of children and babies last Sunday, a celebration for First Communion classes this Monday morning and the coming session for the sick and elderly on Saturday.
The 10.30pm session each evening will have a more reflective atmosphere through the use of Taize music and candlelight and is especially popular with the younger crowd.
According to Fr. Enright, a key ingredient of the Novena is the opportunity to write out prayers of petition and of thanksgiving.
He said: “A Novena session is never just a collection of individuals at prayer, It is a community at prayer, the church in prayer. In a real sense, it is we the people. Everyone is welcome and everyone is included.”
The Novena will be live streamed at www.novena.ie
To read more about Solemn Novena click here