Northern Ireland

Thousands expected to log on for annual Clonard Novena

Thousands of people are expected to log on to take part in the annual Clonard Novena, which begins today. (WED). Picture by Mal McCann
Thousands of people are expected to log on to take part in the annual Clonard Novena, which begins today. (WED). Picture by Mal McCann Thousands of people are expected to log on to take part in the annual Clonard Novena, which begins today. (WED). Picture by Mal McCann

Thousands of people are expected to log on to take part in the annual Clonard Novena, which begins today.

For the second year in a row, the event, which is held in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, is taking place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In previous years the Novena has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to the west Belfast church with worshippers also packing the corridors and gardens to take part.

This year, the Novena, which runs until June 24, will consist of four daily sessions at 7am, 9.30am, 6.15pm and 8pm.

Preachers at the event will include Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, Fr Johnny Doherty, and Fr Ciaran O'Callaghan.

The two guest speakers will be Helena Connolly, who has worked with the Redemptorist mission teams in the west of Ireland, Limerick and Clonard, and Fr Brendan O’Rourke, a former Clonard Rector, now based in Dublin.

Speaking yesterday, Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, said organising the online Novena is "very straightforward" compared to the "very, very challenging" in person event.

"We were very, very pleasantly surprised last year by the number of people who joined it online but it is not the same for them or for us," he said.

"It is very, very inclusive and everyone is welcome to come in that sense.

"The basic ingredients will be there and maybe even more than last year.

"This year we are not locked down. We are able to have readers and musicians. The music will be there. We will have lay readers. We have got a really, really attractive line up of preachers".

Fr Burns added: "There is something about joining Clonard that people just feel that they are part of it or drawn into it in some way. It is very, very attractive to people.

"It will be fine but it is not the same".

Further information is available at www.clonard.com.