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Worshippers flock to west Belfast for first day of Clonard Novena

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

THOUSANDS of worshippers flocked to west Belfast yesterday for the first day of the annual Clonard Novena.

The nine-day prayer event at the Falls Road monastery runs until June 21 with the theme this year, 'The joy of love: Family life today'.

Men and women - young and old - gathered for the festival of faith, which is held annually in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the monastery during the novena, with thousands more watching the services through a live webcam inside the place of worship.

With 10 sessions every weekday and nine sessions on Saturday and on Sunday, among the preachers this year are Fr Michael Cusack, from Dundalk, Co Louth and Fr Adrian Egan from Clonard.

Fr Peter McCarthy, an Irish Redemptorist from Brazil and Fr Kevin O’Neil, a Redemptorist working in New Jersey in the US are also set to preach.

Clonard rector Fr Noel Kehoe said: "It's a wonderful event, building on the novena of last year".

The event also comes ahead of the World Meeting of Families, which takes place in Dublin in August where Pope Francis will be meeting families.

A young boy was among hundreds who visited Clonard monastery yesterday. Picture by Mal McCann

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Clonard Rector Fr Noel Kehoe: All welcome on day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Day one of the annual Clonard Novena in west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

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