Thousands of people are expected in Galway over the next week and a half for the annual Solemn Novena in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, one of the highlights of the Catholic calendar in the west.
Previous years have seen crowds of between eight and 10 thousand people attending the novena sessions in the Cathedral each day.
This year’s novena will run from Monday February 4 to Tuesday February 12, with six sessions daily at the Cathedral during the event.
Novena sessions will take place at 7.45am, 11am, 1.10pm, 3.30pm, 7.30pm, and 9.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and at 9am, 10.30am, 12.30pm, 4.30pm, 6.30pm, and 8.15pm on the Sunday.
A Mass with Anointing of the Sick will take place on Saturday February 9 at 11am. Thursday February 7 will be devoted to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession ), with four sessions of reconciliation at 7.45am, 1.10pm, 7.30pm, and 9.30pm. Mass will take place at 11am and 3.30pm, with confessions before and after the Masses.
The Blessing of Babies and Children will take place after all sessions on Sunday February 10. There will be candlelight prayer before Blessed Sacrament on Wednesday February 6 and Monday February 11 at 10.30pm.
The theme for this year’s event is ‘The Gospel Virtues for Today’.
The Novena has taken place annually in Galway Cathedral since 1982. The director of the novena, Father Brendan O’Rourke CSsR, commented that one of the special moments in each of the novena sessions is listening to petitions and thanksgivings being read out. “These petitions and thanksgivings capture so concretely, and so movingly, the joys and sorrows, the desperation and love, the sicknesses and celebration of new life in our community,” he said. “There is often a lot of hardship and struggle spoken of in the petitions, and in the thanksgivings we hear amazing evidence of healing, reconciliation, and new life breaking through. A time of consolation, a time of pulling together as one family, a time to weep with those who suffer, a time to rejoice with those who are joyful.”
The Galway Novena is organised by the Redemptorists in Esker in conjunction with Galway Cathedral, the Diocese of Galway, and many volunteers. This year’s event will involve the work of 12 Redemptorist priests, a group of Redemptorist co-workers, Bishop Martin Drennan, the staff of Galway Cathedral, and several other priests.
The preachers at this year’s Novena are Fr Gerry O’Connor CSsR, Fr Brendan O’Rourke CSsR, Fr Patrick O’Keeffe CSsR, Fr Seán Duggan CSsR, and Fr Peter Burns CSsR.
Galway Cathedral has appealed to people attending the novena to park responsibly.