The annual Clonard Novena got under way in west Belfast yesterday.
It is believed thousands of people logged on for the first day which, for the second year in a row, is taking place online only.
Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, said the start of the Novena had gone "very smoothly".
"I just did a brief introduction and welcome and then we had a session," he said.
"We were surprised by how many petitions have come in, the church written ones," he said.
"People are still coming into the church during the day. We had a lot of those and then we had a number online.
The Rector said it is "very strange" for the Redemptorist community to be celebrating the Novena without any worshippers.
"We have got used to people being in the church against since the end of March and it is just strange to be celebrating in an empty church," he said.
"I got some very nice text messages from people saying it seemed to go well and they liked it but it is not easy for us because we can't see them".
Joan McCoubrey, who watched the Novena online from her home in the Whiterock area of west Belfast, said it had been "lovely" to log on yesterday to watch it.
"It was nice," said the 84-year-old.
"I am not as fit now as I used to be. If I am not well, I just do it online. It's great."
Further information is available at clonard.com.