The final preparations are being made in Galway Cathedral for the upcoming annual Novena which runs for nine days from Monday March 6 to Tuesday March 14.
The theme this year is ‘Faith In Challenging Times’, and the Novena will hear from a number of insightful speakers, each with diverse experiences of church, and each bringing a unique personal perspective.
These include the Co Donegal couple Brian and Lana O’Driscoll; Redemptorist Fr Brendan O’Callanan; Paula McKeown, the deputy-chair of the Irish Church’s Synodal Pathway; former Irish and Premier League footballer Keith Fahey; Daniella Stephens, a young Catholic evangelist from Manchester; Níall McDonagh, a Londoner who moved to Galway city as a teenager and whose encounter with God transformed his life; Tyrone GAA legend Mickey Harte who continues to carry and cope with the heartache of bereavement; Gerard Hanley who works full-time in youth ministry as director of Alpha Youth Ireland; as well as input from Bishop Michael Duignan who will be speaking at his first Galway Novena.
Fr John Gerard Acton, Curate, says last year’s Novena, his first as a priest in the Cathedral, took place entirely online as a consequence of the Covid pandemic.
“Though many people logged in each day, the event was not really like ‘the real thing’, lacking, as it did, the joyous, uplifting, supportive presence of a large congregation.”
Anne Berry, chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council, says the Novena plays such an important role in the lives of so many people in Galway city and beyond.
"Now in its 39th year, this remarkable festival of faith is a most wonderful opportunity for participants to take time out of busy and complicated lives to find some space, quiet and calm and, with many other like-minded people, to gather in prayer and reflection."
Cathedral Parish Priest, Msgr Peter Rabbitte, adds: “Fr John Gerard, the whole Cathedral team and I are very much looking forward to seeing old and new faces, singing old and new hymns, making welcome people of all ages, faiths, experiences and as we come together to experience afresh the love that God, and his Blessed Mother have for us, their children."
Daily Novena sessions are at 11am, 1.10pm and 7.30pm. The schedule for Sunday March 12 varies with sessions at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 3pm and 6pm. The Sacrament of the Sick will be celebrated at 11am on Saturday, March 11 and the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at all sessions, except those on Sunday.
Each Novena day will conclude with a quiet, reflective hour of Prayer by Candlelight before the Blessed Sacrament from 8.30pm. The daily 7.30pm session is available online via the Galway Cathedral website www.galwaycathedral.ie, the Galway Cathedral Facebook page and YouTube channel.