2018 Clonard Novena a 'wonderful experience with great numbers'
THE annual Clonard Novena drew to a close in west Belfast yesterday with this year's event described as a "wonderful experience".
More than 100,000 people took part in the nine days of services, which had a theme of `The joy of love: Family life today'.
The event is held annually in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
This year's preachers included Fr Michael Cusack from Dundalk, 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.
In the lead-up to the novena a new Clonard app was launched, allowing people at home and around the world to receive information about ceremonies.
Speaking yesterday on the final day of the novena, Clonard Rector Fr Noel Kehoe said it had been a "wonderful experience with great numbers despite the weather turning a bit inclement and competing with the World Cup".
"It was a very challenging novena as we reflected on family life and the modern challenges that face life today in Ireland," he said.
"The people have found great comfort in hearing the difficulties they have faced being named in the preaching and also through the petitions and the great sense that God is with them in those difficulties and is walking with them and that the Church doesn't abandon them in their difficulties".
Fr Kehoe added that the clear-up from the novena would begin early today.
"On Friday morning, work begins at 7am again with the clearing up," he said.
"There's a great sense of relief in the community as well but also a great sense of appreciation for the faith of the people and gratitude as well for the over 300 people volunteers who have been involved in this novena."