Northern Ireland news

Tens of thousands logging on for Clonard's online Novena

Tens of thousands of people have been logging on for Clonard's online Novena. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

TENS of thousands of people have been logging on to follow the Clonard Novena online this year.

Webcam figures show more people viewing services than would usually physically attend when the church is open.

The nine-day Novena in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which got underway on Friday, is taking place solely online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The event, which normally draws more than 100,000 visitors every year, is taking the form of four daily sessions at 7am, 9.30am, 6.15pm and 8pm which are broadcast in front of an empty church.

However, the Redemptorist community have opened Clonard church from 10.30am to 5pm to allow people to go in for private prayer and to submit petitions and thanksgivings.

Figures show that on Friday, the Clonard web cam experienced 56,000 hits.

The number of people who stayed online for between five minutes and one hour and beyond was 25,000.

Similar figures have been reported for the days since.

Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, said the feedback from viewers had been very positive.

"We have never been all that interested in numbers but at the same time, we're very reassured that there is a very significant number of people accessing the online," he said.

"On an ordinary Thursday which is Novena day and on an ordinary Sunday, since the lockdown, the number of people on the web cam would have been 3,500. If you compare that to the online Novena figure, it is five times as many.

"The really interesting thing is when it says 18,000 stayed on for five minutes to one hour, there is no way of knowing how many people that represents.

"It might be an elderly person on their own, it might be a couple, or a family. It could translate into 25,000/30,000 people."

Fr Burns said petitions also remain a significant component of the novena this year.

"The petitions and thanksgivings coming in online have been extraordinary. Just the numbers of them - hundreds and hundreds," he said.

"It is absolutely wonderful. They are printed out and read by the preachers and cantors and they are used and all are then included in prayers."

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