Novena a time and place of solace
The summer has ended for another year and the evenings are slowly becoming darker, and as orange posters are visible in car and shop windows…it can only mean one thing - St. Gerard's novena is returning.
One of Dundalk's most popular events, the St Gerard Majella Novena begins on Sunday October 8th and will run for nine days until Monday October 16th.
Rector, Fr. Michael Cusack told the Argus they are once again expecting huge crowds to converge on Dundalk to attend the popular novena in honour of St Gerard Majella in the Redemptorist Church.
'This event is now part of the very fabric of life for the people of Dundalk, Newry and the surrounding towns and counties.'
Adding that it has become a time and a place of solace for thousands of people, no matter what they are going through, Fr Cusack added:
'Hard Brexit or soft Brexit, life continues for us all with its burdens and challenges. We all have our reasons to be thankful and our special intentions to pray for.'
'This community gathering of prayer and worship has inspired and helped many over the generations and has truly stood the test of time,' said Fr. Cusack.
'There has been devotion to St Gerard here in this region for over 100 years now,' he explained.
'We always look forward to welcoming people back and indeed welcoming new faces. The most important message to get out there is that all are welcome.'
St Gerard, who has been coined the 'Saint for Dundalk' is a particular source of devotion for expectant mothers and is recognised as patron of mothers and babies. Indeed he is affectionately known as 'the mothers' saint.'
Fr. Cusack explained that the 'World Meeting of Families' will take place in Dublin in August 2018 and so in preparation for this we are focusing at this year's novena on the theme of family and relationships and our connections with faith and church.'
The overall theme of this year's novena is 'Home isn't a Place - It's You and Me'.
Some of the special events this year are the guest speaker, Lisa Marmion from Women's Aid Dundalk.
Lisa will speak to thousands of novena goers on the theme of 'When Home Is Where the Hurt Is' at all sessions on Thursday October 12th
Weekday sessions are held at: 7.00am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.10pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm, 6.00pm, 7.30pm, 9.00pm & 10.30pm. The Sunday Times differ slightly: 7.00am, 8.00am, 9.30am, 11.00am, 12.30pm, 4pm, 6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm.
On Friday 13th we celebrate as a community the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the 9.30am, 11am, 6pm and 7.30pm novena sessions.
The ceremony of the Anointing of the Sick and Elderly takes place on Saturday 14th at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
The great celebration of the Blessing of Babies and Children will be held on Sunday 15th at 2.30pm.
The preachers at our novena this year are: Fr. Noel Kehoe,(Clonard Monastery, Belfast); Fr. Tony Rice, (St. Joseph's, Dundalk), Archbishop Eamon Martin, (Ara Coeli, Armagh), Fr. Brendan O Rourke, (St Patrick's Monastery,Esker) Fr. Ciaran O Callaghan, (Clonard Monastery, Belfast); Fr. Brendan Callanan, (St. Joseph's, Dundalk).