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Popular religious sister back to lead Novena in Cork

By Ann Marie Foley - 22 August, 2019

A Cork Novena will see the return of Sr Merle Salazar FDNSC, a nun from the Philippines who was very well received last year. Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart saw numbers rise last year as Sr Merle led it.

“We are delighted to welcome Sr Merle back to the Sacred Heart Church this year, and we look forward to a blessed and prayerful Novena together,” said Fr Michael O’Connell, Director of the MSC Missions Office in Cork, who expects to welcome old friends and new this year.

“Our annual Novena is always a wonderful time of reflection and prayer, and it is with great joy that we see our Novena celebrations grow as people from all over the world join us via the live daily Masses on our website.”

Sr Merle, who was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines, now resides in Rome as First Councillor to the General. She was a certified public accountant until she decided to join religious life with the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 1995.

As a young religious sister, she worked in the remote village of Cebu. Following her final profession, she got a masters degree in religious studies and has ministered in Formation and Leadership. She has also taught Marian theology and scripture at three theology schools in Manila.

At the novena in Cork she will speak on this year’s theme “Mother–Disciple”. The novena has been going from strength to strength and attendance had been rising steadily over the last three years, bucking the perceived trend towards decreasing numbers attending religious services.

“Sr Merle also led our 2018 Novena to the Sacred Heart, and numbers grew especially during the course of this Novena. The Sacred Heart Church is not a big cathedral, but a cosy church, so numbers at each Novena Mass would be in the hundreds. This is especially nice for those attending, as there is always time for a little gathering and a chat after each Mass,” said a spokesperson.

The online presence is also increasing and last year over 1600 viewers tuned into live streaming during the 9 days of the Novena.

“We expect the number of people watching our live stream to rise further this year, as our online community continues to grow. We are delighted to welcome mission friends from all over the world to pray with us at our daily Novena Masses, from Irish people who are now living abroad to those who may never have set foot on Irish soil but join us in spirit at the Sacred Heart Church on the Western Road in Cork,” said the spokesperson.

All are welcome to join Sr Merle by attending daily Novena Masses at the Sacred Heart Church or following it on the internet. Each day the Novena Masses will be live at 10.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m. The special Day of Healing will take place on Thursday 5 September.

Petitions and requests for prayers for personal intentions have already been arriving in advance. Many want to pray for family and loved ones, particularly children and grandchildren. Happiness and success in school and college is also included in prayer requests.

Petitions for health are always high in numbers including those concerning serious illnesses, worry about medical tests, mental health, depression and suicide. People also pray so family members can secure mortgages, housing and jobs and for the safety of friends and family members living abroad.

Personal prayer intentions and petitions for the novena can be forwarded to the MSC Missions Office by phone or email. Details and live streaming are available on: www.mscmissions.ie.

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