REPAIRS costing up to €400,000 are needed to secure the Redemptorist church at Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick city.
The new rector, Fr Seamus Enright, said that during a routine inspection of the cross, perched on top of the church, the steeplejacks discovered a crack in the base which led to emergency work to make the cross safe.
Richard Boland, of Collins Steeplejacks, was among those carrying out works on the 150 year old cross on the roof of the Redemptorists church, in advance of the annual solemn novena which takes place this weekend.
“We started doing normal maintenance, but we found that the cross at the top was in a dangerous state and will have to be removed and replaced,” Fr Enright said.
“It has turned into a bigger job than we expected. About €400,000 will need to be spent on the maintenance of the church over the next four years on a phased basis. We are also planning to do some work on the car park this summer, and make it more of a forecourt,” he added.
He said the public had always been very generous towards the order.
“We have a little reserve fund, but we may need some help,” he said.
The novena starts this Friday, June 12 and will run for nine days. The ‘festival of faith’ is set to attract thousands of people.
The novena in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help will feature ten masses daily, from 7am to 10.30pm, from June 12 to June 20.
Fr Enright said there had been an ever greater advertising drive this year to promote the novena, “as we feel there’s a whole world we don’t have contact with that we’d like to tap into”.
“Pope Francis has been urging people to step out of their comfort zones, get out on to the streets, and on to the periphery, and we want to do that,” Fr Enright.
Adverts for the novena now appear on Google, and on the back of two Bus Eireann buses in the city.
“We want to bring the novena to a wider audience. We’re hoping for big crowds again, and it has held fairly steady,” he said.
For the novena, he said they will be reflecting on one of Jesus’s parables for each of the nine days, and see what might it say to people today.
“People can be drawn in to the parables unsuspectingly, and then find it is about themselves. It is like holding a mirror up,” he said.
Fr Enright, who has been based in Limerick for the past 13 years, said the novena has always been close to his heart.
“I think I come away each year with my own faith nourished. I feel nourished by the faith of the people who come, and likewise I think they feel nourished. It’s very much a people’s novena.”
Stewards or volunteers are needed at the novena but must be available to attend a meeting on June 11 at 8pm. If you are interested please leave your name and contact details at reception or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There are ten sessions every day beginning: 7am, 8am, 10am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm, 9pm and 10.30pm.