TENS of thousands of Limerick people are expected to attend the annual solemn Novena which kicked off on Friday and will continue until the end of this week at Mount St Alphonsus Redemptorists church.
The theme of this year’s Novena is A Path To Happiness - The Gospel Virtues of Today, and judging by the large crowd attending the lunchtime service in Friday, it is a theme which resonates with many people.
Chief organiser Fr Adrian Egan said they expected big crowds over the nine days.“We don’t know how many come but we have ten sessions a day and anything up to 1,000 people a session so anything up to 10,000 people a day can come to this - so a lot of people.”
He added: “The highlights are just seeing the amount of people coming and the buzz and atmosphere and activity around the place for the nine days and all the volunteers that help out.
“In terms of sessions, the blessing of the babies on Sunday afternoon is one of the highlights; it’s always got great life in it. On Monday there is mass for the first communion children who have made their first communion during the year; there is a great joy in that as well. And the session for the sick next Saturday on the last day is always a very moving session, but each session has its own unique character.”
Attendees at the Novena on Friday were eager to share why the event was so special to them.
Two sisters Anne O’Brien, Annacotty and Rebecca Ryan, Caherdavin have been attending the Novena since they were children and now they take their own children and grandchildren. “It means a lot to our family. We have been coming here since we were children, 50 years ago and now we are here with our children and grandchildren,” they said.
Joss Carroll from Prospect said: “I love it. It brings a lot of people together, people who you wouldn’t have seen in a long time.”
Aidan Ryan from the Georgian Village added: “It means a lot to me, it is very good. It renews your faith and you meet great people here.”
The times of the sessions each day are 7am, 8am, 10am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm, 9pm, 10.30pm.
There will be special celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (without Mass) at five of the sessions on Wednesday June 20 at 10am, 4.30pm, 6pm, 9pm, and 10.30pm. Mass will be celebrated at the other sessions on that day.
Apart from Wednesday June 20, confessions will be held in the church and in caravans before and after most sessions of the Novena. Counselling, with professional counsellors, will also be available during the Novena from today until Friday from 10.45am to 1.15pm, and from 5pm to 9pm.
A special session for the sick, elderly, and infirm, with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, will be held at 11.30am on Saturday June 23.