THE BUNTING is up, the volunteers are in place at the gates and behind the scenes, and the masses are “A1”.
Limerick’s annual Solemn Novena is well underway, and attendance figures are as high as ever.
“God’s house, your home, all are welcome here” cries the banner erected outside the Redemptorist Church at Mount St Alphonsus in the city.
“We’ve had people pouring in from 6.30am on in the pouring rain,” said volunteer Theresa Delaney on Friday last, the first day of the nine-day ‘festival of faith’.
She estimated that 3,000 had attended by lunchtime, with five sessions yet to be held that day.
She believes the recession has actually led to a “comeback” to the Church, with more people searching for something deeper.
“It’s a wonderful start and a wonderful opening to the novena. It gives us great hope when you see that happening,” she said.
Theresa has been coming to the novena for longer than she’d like to remember, and will keep coming “as long as my two legs keep me up.”
“Thousands come year after year, and it means a lot to be part of those thousands,” she said.
“People may not always get their full request, but they get peace to accept it more,” she said.
Fr Seamus Devitt, who has been based in Limerick for eight years, was looking forward to “Holy mayhem” on Sunday, during the blessing of the babies.
“It uplifts everybody. We might be conducting it, but it’s the people who attend that lift us up.
“It’s a labour of love and a joy to see everyone coming.
“During the belly-up of the Tiger, people found there’s more to life. In the last couple of years people are coming back looking for something and obviously finding something as well,” said Fr Devitt, who is due to move to Athenry.
Volunteer Sean Getlevog, from Knocklong said he feels it’s important to give up his time when he sees how people suffer, as revealed in their petitions.
“When the chaplain is packed, and you see people sorting out the petitions, it’s terribly sad. The novena keeps us all going. I’ll keep doing it until I’m not able to do it,” he said.
A professional team of counsellors are also available throughout the novena to help people with their problems.
The ten sessions each day will be held at 7am, 8am, 10am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm, 9pm and 10.30pm.