By Sean Ryan - 13 June, 2016
Thousands of people are expected to attend the annual nine-day Solemn Novena in Limerick city which commences this week.
The ‘festival of faith’ runs from 17-25 June and draws crowds from across Limerick city and county to the Redemptorist church at Mount St Alphonsus on the South Circular Road.
Almost €500,000 has been invested in upgrading work at the church, while one of its shrine is currently undergoing an upgrade thanks to a generous donor.
The Redemptorists are continuing to celebrate 150 years of devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at this year’s novenas in Esker in Co Galway, Clonard Monastery in Belfast and Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick.
The Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help – having visited all 26 Catholic cathedrals – will return to Limerick for the last three days of this year’s novena.
The novena this year will focus on the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the theme of the preaching will be Mary, Icon of God’s Mercy.
Each day the church will focus on an aspect of the Icon. Examples of the daily themes are ‘Mercy is the Language of God’, ‘With the Lord there is Mercy and Redemption’ (the motto of the Redemptorists), ‘Mercy for those who are Hurting’ and ‘Mercy on the Margins’.
There will be a Holy Door of Mercy in Mount St Alphonsus for the nine days of the Novena.
Traditionally pilgrims had to go to Rome to celebrate a Holy Year – symbolised by walking through the Holy Door – but Pope Francis has decided that people can celebrate the Holy Year in their local cathedrals or other churches designated by the local bishop.
Daily mass times will be at 7am, 8am, 10am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 7.30pm, 9pm, and 10.30pm.
Fr Seamus Enright, rector of the Redemptorists in Limerick, explained on local radio that Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick has agreed that they can have a Holy Door in Mount St Alphonsus during the novena.
“There are no unforgivable sins because, as God sees it, there are no unlovable people,” said Fr Enright.
He has been based in Limerick for the past 14 years and prior to that between 1980-84. As a native of Limerick, the novena has always been close to his heart.
“I think I come away each year with my own faith nourished. I feel nourished by the faith of the people who come, and likewise I think they feel nourished. It’s very much a people’s novena.”
Among the regular novena events will be the Blessing of Babies and Young Children on Sunday, 19 June 19 at 4.30pm; the Novena Celebration for First Communion Classes on Monday, 20 June at 11.30am; the Novena Celebration for the Sick and Infirm on Saturday 25 June at 11.30am; and priests will be available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation every day except Sunday 19 June.
There will be a free, drop-in counselling service in a caravan outside the church from Monday, 20 June to Friday 25 June from 10.45am to 1.15pm and from 5pm to 9pm.
The Novena will be broadcast on www.novena.ie.