FAMILY is the focus of this year’s Limerick Solemn Novena, in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
People may have seen Our Lady on a double decker bus recently and no, their eyes are not deceiving them.
The advertisement is part of a multimedia promotional campaign for the annual novena, which takes place from June 16 to 24 at the Redemptorist Church, Limerick.
The novena is the biggest religious event in the Mid-West. Up to 10,000 people a day are expected to attend. The theme of this year’s novena, Home is You and Me, is marriage and family life.
“The definition of family isn’t as simple as it was in the past,” explains novena director, Fr Seamus Enright, C.Ss.R.
“As well as married couples, there are couples who are living together, lone parents, couples who are divorced and remarried, same sex couples, single people living on their own and so on. This variety of family combinations brings a lot of challenges.
“Each day during the novena we will focus on a different aspect of family life. Given how family life in Ireland has changed in recent times, I think this year’s theme has a particular relevance for all of us,” says Fr Enright.
“No matter what one’s family situation or how strong or weak their faith may be, everyone is welcome at the novena.”
The novena starts on June 16 and continues until June 24, with 10 sessions daily from 7am to 10.30pm. People can also join online from anywhere in the world through the novena website and submit their prayers of petition and thanksgiving.
Confession and a free walk-in counselling service will be available each day.
There will be the traditional novena highlights: the special session for the sick and elderly on June 24; the blessing of babies and children on the afternoon of June 18 and a celebration for First Communion classes on Monday, June 19 at 11.30am.
According to Fr Enright, a key ingredient of the novena is the opportunity to write out prayers of petition and thanksgiving.
“A novena session is never just a collection of individuals at prayer,” he says. “It is a community at prayer, the Church in prayer. In a real sense, it is we the people. Everyone is welcome and everyone is included.”
The novena will be live streamed on the novena website, while information will also be on the Facebook page and on Twitter.