TENS of thousands of people from Limerick and beyond will descend on the Redemptorist church in the city from this Friday for the annual solemn novena.
Described as Limerick’s Fatima or Lourdes, this ‘festival of faith’ has succeeded in drawing thousands of people year on year to the South Circular Road church.
Some 15,000 booklets have been specially printed for the week, and more than 200 people from the lay community will be volunteering their time in organising the week.
Rector Fr Adrian Egan said there is “always a great sense of welcome” at the novena, where people gain strength and solace from being with others who are also “searching, yearning and looking for something”.
Fr Egan said the appointments of Pope Francis and the new Bishop of Limerick, Fr Brendan Leahy, have been a “breath of fresh air” and are “very positive” appointments.
It is expected that Bishop Leahy will also attend the novena at the Redemptorist’s, one of the oldest established religious orders in Limerick.
The theme of the novena this year is Stand firm in Faith: Fifty Years of Vatican II, which he said is “a call to be a more open and welcoming church”.
Indeed the 1,200 church will be packed to capacity for many of the sessions throughout the week, where hundreds of petitions - pleas for help or letters of thanksgiving - are written and handed up at the altar.
The Annual Solemn Novena, in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, takes place at Mount St. Alphonsus from this Friday, June 14 to Saturday next, June 22. There will be ten masses each day, at 7am, 8am, 10am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm, 9pm, and 10.30pm.
Preachers this year are Fr Michael Cusack, Fr Seamus Enright, Fr Michael Kelleher, and Fr Gerard O’Connor, all members of the Redemptorist community in Limerick, Dublin and Dundalk.
The blessing of babies and small children will take place on Sunday, June 16, at 4.40pm. A special novena session for First Communion classes is on Monday, June 17 at 11.30am.
The novena session with the anointing of the sick and the elderly is on Saturday, June 22 at 11.30am.
Confessions are available in the church and caravans everyday, except Sunday when no confessions are heard.
Counselling services are available from Monday, June 17, to Friday, June 21, from 10.45am to 1.15pm, and 5pm to 9pm.
In a sign of the times, the novena can also be viewed online for those unable to make it to church, or those living abroad. Thousands of people, as far away as Israel and China, tune in for the novena each year.
You can also follow the Redemptorists on Twitter, @RedsLimerick. See www.novena.ie