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Sunday 26 May 2019

Tens of thousands flock to church as Irish priest starts 'novena selfies' craze

Father Brian Cusack pictured with visitors Matthew and Louise. (Photo: Facebook/Redemptorists Dundalk)
Father Brian Cusack pictured with visitors Matthew and Louise. (Photo: Facebook/Redemptorists Dundalk)

Elaine Keogh

The Pope started clerical ‘selfies’ and now hundreds of Irish people are taking ‘novena selfies’ and uploading them to Facebook.

The request to take the ‘novena selfies’ was made to the ten thousand people who go daily to St Gerard’s novena in Dundalk.

Now the Facebook page of the Redemptorist’s church is being inundated with selfies from old and young alike.

The novena is organised by Fr Michael Cusack who has embraced social media – last month he uploaded his comical ‘ice bucket’ challenge where he disrobed from his priestly garb to reveal Bermuda shorts.

Now he has asked the 90 thousand people, some who travel long-distances to the church, to take the selfies and post them on the Facebook page of the Redemptorists in Dundalk.

Fr Michael gave the go ahead for the selfies and said the idea came from Matthew Cregan (27), a former technical director at the Gaiety Theatre who is now a student for the priesthood with the Redemptorists in Dundalk.

Matthew admitted, “I am addicted to Facebook, “and explained that, “One of the themes for the Novena this year is ‘The Church and the Streets’ and what better way to spread the gospel to the streets than through social media.”

He said the novena selfie has proven a success and, “We are getting hundreds of notifications every hour with people sending more and more in. People are getting them at the shrines in the Church with the priests.”

“It is great because it is something new for the people. At the end we will compile all these selfies and do together and do something a little special for the people with them,” he said.

Jennifer McEvoy-Caffrey took her selfie with her son Fionn (13) and daughter Anaish (11) as they went into the novena.  She said, “It helps the Church appeal to younger people and my kids thought it was a great idea and they are growing up in this era.”

Fr Michael said Pope Francis did a selfie early in his ministry and he has a huge following on Twitter.

“The Church has been accused of being in the dark ages so this is bouncing it into the 21st century and we are embracing all that is good about social media,” Fr Michael said.

The novena, which began last Wednesday ends on Thursday.

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