THE annual Clonard Novena returned in-person today for the first time since 2019.
After two years of virtual services during the Covid-19 pandemic, public Masses are being celebrated at the annual novena in Clonard Monastery in west Belfast.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the nine-day event, held each year in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which runs until June 23.
Fr Peter Burns, rector of Clonard, said the monastery is aware that Covid remains a public health concern.
The number of Novena sessions each day have been reduced from 10 to six.
"There will be three sessions each morning - 7am, 9.30am and 11.30am and then at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm," he told The Irish News earlier this week.
Two Presbyterian ministers, Rev Steve Stockman, of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast and Rev Ruth Patterson of Restoration Ministries will take part in the Novena this year.
Rev Stockman preached today. A lay person, Neil Foley from Wexford, will also preach at the event.
There is also a change to confession.
Confessions are being celebrated in two temporary cabins outside the church.