By Ann Marie Foley - 19 February, 2014
The novenas will also see high profile sports stars like the horse trainer, Dermot Weld, and GAA manager, Mickey Harte, as well as papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, speak about their faith.
“Really what they do is they tell their own story and say how God has helped them in their own lives,” Fr Liam Merrigan, PP of Monasterevin Parish, told catholicIreland.net.
His parish is an old hand at novenas having held eight in as many years to which great crowds flocked from all the surrounding parishes as well as the parish of Monasterevin itself.
The Monastarevin annual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help runs this year for six weeks from Wednesday 5 March until 9 April 2014.
The new bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin, is the first speaker.
‘My Faith Story’ is the theme and special prayers and petitions will be heard each week as well as the guest speaker.
When asked what makes the parish novena so popular, Fr Merrigan said there is huge interest in the petitions or intentions that people pray for during the liturgy.
“We say what some of the intentions are. In the present time, financial worries are a big thing or maybe there is a sick child or someone that has cancer that they want to pray for,” he explained.
Just a few miles down the motorway in Co Laois, Portlaoise parish is just beginning its second novena.
This one runs for nine weeks with a speaker each Wednesday from 19 February, when Fr Brian D’Arcy addresses pilgrims on the subject ‘A little bit of Religion’.
Last year was the first novena in Portlaoise and it was a huge success with the sizeable church (capacity 1,200) filled each novena night.
Fr Paddy Byrne, who was new as a curate in Portlaoise last year, said he felt that the novena would help to connect with those people who do not normally engage with mainstream Sunday services.
It also helps adults to share not just faith but vulnerability as a major component of the novena is petitions.
The Portlaoise Parish Novena funs from 19 February to 16 April.