Northern Ireland

Annual Clonard Novena draws up to 10,000 online views per day

Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, speaks from the altar during the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann
Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, speaks from the altar during the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann Fr Peter Burns, Rector of Clonard, speaks from the altar during the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann

The annual Clonard Novena drew to a close yesterday after attracting up to 90,000 online views during the nine days, from as far away as Singapore and Malaysia.

It was the second year in a row that the popular event, which is held in honour of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, took 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 concluded yesterday, consisted of four daily sessions.

Preachers at the event included Clonard Rector Fr Peter Burns.

He said the event had gone "as well as we could have expected."

"It's not the same as having the Novena the way we always had it but it was good," he said.

Petitions left at the altar at Clonard on the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann
Petitions left at the altar at Clonard on the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann Petitions left at the altar at Clonard on the final day of the annual Novena. Picture by Mal McCann

"I think that the actual Novena itself, what we did liturgically, was very, very good. Good quality.

"We had our musicians and our cantors and we had our readers and our preachers. All of that went very, very well.

"The interesting thing is, in some ways, even though there was no attendance of the public at the actual Novena sessions, the church was open 11-5 each day and a significant number came.

"We realised that by the number of written petitions. It was extraordinary.

Fr Peter Burns preaches on the last day of the Clonard Novena during covid restrictions. Picture by Mal McCann.
Fr Peter Burns preaches on the last day of the Clonard Novena during covid restrictions. Picture by Mal McCann. Fr Peter Burns preaches on the last day of the Clonard Novena during covid restrictions. Picture by Mal McCann.

"Those had to be written in the church. There were piles of them. Online, we got thousands of thanksgivings and petitions by email. It was a very significant response.

"We also set up the shop at the reception. That did very well. We brought a second employee in to staff there. There was quite a big number of people who came to buy things. There was a certain buzz around the place, which was great."

Fr Burns also revealed that there had been around 10,000 hits online each day from people logging on to watch the Novena.

"That's an awful lot of people each day," he said.

"Even though we can't see people and even though it is very, very difficult to somehow imagine that number of people out there, they are there and we have had quite a lot of very appreciative feedback from people."

The priest said people had logged on from as far away as the US, New Zealand, South Africa, Luxembourg, Zimbabwe, Canada and India.

"The numbers are comparable to, or maybe in excess of, what we have if the Novena had been in the church," he said.