By Sean Ryan - 20 May, 2017
A leading lay missionary with the Redemptorist Order is one of the main preachers at this year’s Clonard Novena, which takes place in Belfast next month. It will mark the first time that a female resident preacher with the Redemptorists will preach at the famous West Belfast novena.
Anne Walsh is from Canada, and is one of four resident preachers taking part in this year’s novena, which runs from 14 to 22 June.
A native of St John’s in Newfoundland, she worked as a teacher for a number of years. She then took leave of absence from her job to pursue a Master’s in Religious Education in 1991, when she linked up with the Redemptorist Order.
Her work with the order has gone from strength to strength, and having been a member of the Redemptorist Youth Mission Team for three years, she has been part of several different mission preaching teams.
Ms Walsh is also a regular contributor to televised devotions in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Canada, as well as being executive assistant to the Archbishop of St John’s, Newfoundland.
This year’s Clonard Novena has the theme ‘Home isn’t a place, it’s you and me’, and is set to explore various aspects of family life and the idea of the Church as a home.
Other preachers at the novena include Fr Michael Kelleher, Fr Brendan Kelly and Fr Michael Brehl, the Superior General of the Redemptorists worldwide.
Speaking about the novena to the Irish News newspaper in Belfast, the Rector of Clonard Monastery Fr Noel Kehoe said that it became clear from the responses of a survey carried out in 2015 that the voice of women needed to be heard at the novena.
He added that “Anne is a long established Redemptorist lay missionary. She has worked extensively with the Redemptorists in Canada, Ireland and internationally, as well as with the Canadian Bishops’ Conference.”
Speaking about this year’s novena, he said that upwards of 100,000 people are expected over the nine days and that four months of planning has already taken place.
“It’s about community. It’s about faith. It is about bringing all those things together and people feeling it is comfortable or it is okay to celebrate the faith. It can be difficult to do it in everyday life.”
The Novena can be followed online at https://www.clonard.com/web-cam