Every year in the month of June, we Redemptorists gather in Belfast, Esker (Athenry, Co. Galway), Ballinasloe and Limerick to celebrate nine days of prayer (Novena) in the presence of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which has a long and colourful history. Each year the Novena has a particular scripture-based theme which is then developed in nine homilies over the nine days. The theme this year is “A Path to Happiness: Gospel Virtues for Today/” In exploring this theme we will proclaim the Gospel values as the only path to genuine happiness and human fulfilment.
Every year in February, we Redemptorists, in partnership with the clergy and people of the Diocese of Galway, organize and preach the Galway Solemn Novena in the city’s Cathedral Parish. It is without doubt the largest faith-event in the city and in the west of Ireland. Similarly, every May, we preach the Novena in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Parish, Foxrock, Dublin 18 and in St. Francis’ Parish, Priorswood, Dublin 17.
The story of how the Novena came to Ireland is fascinating. In 1866 Pope Pius IX commissioned the Redemptorists to make Mary known under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1916 the American Redemptorists celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of that event by establishing a perpetual or weekly Novena. Eventually a young Redemptorist by the name of Matthew Meighan CSsR became the Novena director. Then in 1942 the attack on Pearl Harbour happened and the USA entered World War II. Matthew Meighan joined the US marines as a chaplain and quickly found himself posted to Northern Ireland in 1943. When visiting Clonard Monastery in Belfast he urged the Redemptorists to establish a perpetual Novena and on Thursday, 09th December 1943 the Novena began. It flourished in Belfast and quickly spread to other Redemptorist centres, especially Mount Saint Alphonsus in Limerick. In the late 1970s a team of Redemptorists based in Mount Saint Alphonsus, led by Vincent Kavanagh CSsR developed the Novena even further, giving it the particular festive atmosphere and popularity it enjoys today.
We are happy to bring the Novena to your parish or cluster of parishes. It is a joyful, scripture-based festival of faith which is very popular throughout Ireland.