Solemn Novena to focus on love and family life

The Galway Solemn Novena, which is in its 38th year, will reflect on the Joy of Love and Family Life today when it takes place from this Monday at Galway Cathedral.

The event, which will feature a 12-person Redemptorist team, 300 volunteers, Cathedral staff and 10,000 worshippers, will run from Monday (February 18 ) until Tuesday February 26.

The preachers will include Fr Tony Rice from Belfast, Fr Denis Luddy from Cork, Fr Gerry O’Connor from Limerick city, and environmental scientist Neil Foley from Wexford. Mr Foley’s latest collaborations are on the Hook of Faith digital evangelisation project and with The Mustard Seeds contemporary worship group. He holds a certificate in pastoral theology.

A new addition to the novena last year was the nightly candlelight Mass with Taizé hymns at each 9pm session which was very popular. These candlelight sessions continue this year.

Fr Brendan O’ Rourke, who has spent eight years as rector in Esker and is the director of the Galway Novena, will complete his assignment as both rector and novena director in March. His replacement will be announced by the Redemptorist Provincial within a few weeks.

Father O’ Rourke said the overall theme for this year’s novena is family life today. “We all know that no family is perfect and each family has its joys and struggles. Each day of the novena takes different aspects of everyday family life, and gives a message of consolation, hope and challenge. We will look at the challenges of modern family life and at how central family life is in our experience of God. We will paint a realistic picture of families that are open and welcoming, places where wounds can be met with healing and compassion. We will take a fresh look at what real love looks like. We will also reflect on the importance of the family being a safe place, a place of fairness, and the qualities of good parenting.”

Weekday Masses will take place at 7.30am, 11am, 1.10pm, 3.30pm, 7.30pm, and 9pm, he says. Mass will be celebrated at 9am, 10.30am, 12.30pm, 4.30pm, 6.30pm and 8pm on Sunday.

“Children will be blessed after all the sessions on Sunday 24. Mass and anointing of the sick is on Saturday 23 at 11am. Candlelight meditation sessions will take place at 10pm on Wednesday 20 and Monday 25 and will last about an hour. These will feature live music and reflections. Thursday, February 21 is a day when as a community we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This beautiful ceremony will take place at three sessions: 7.30am, 1.10pm, and 9pm.”

He said the Galway Solemn Novena is a celebration of prayer and faith. “Some of the highlights for people are that the Novena is a time when the voices of people are heard directly. People get to tell the community gathered of their joys and struggles, and people listen and support and pray for one another. The hymns on the playlist for 2019 will be performed by Galway Cathedral organists and cantors from the Redemptorist novena team.”

All collections from the Thursday February 21 Masses (11am, 3.30pm, and 7.30pm ) will be donated to Galway Hospice, the Irish Guide Dogs and SERVE, a development and volunteering organisation working in Ireland and overseas which is committed to tackling poverty and which is a partner of the Redemptorists.

For further information on the Galway Solemn Novena log on to www.galwaycathedral.ie or check out Galway Cathedral across all social media platforms. People are advised to car pool where possible.

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