St Gerard’s Novena starts today (Tuesday) 8 October and continues for nine days until the feast of St Gerard on 16 October.
The annual solemn novena in honour of St Gerard Majella is Dundalk’s great festival of faith and can attract up to 10,000 people each day.
There will be 10 daily sessions on the weekdays: 7.00am, 9.30, 11.30, 1.10pm, 2.30, 4.30, 6.00, 7.30, 9.00 and 10.30.
The Sunday novena times are: 7.00am, 8.00, 9.30, 11.00, 12.30pm, 4.30, 6.00, 7.30 and 9.00.
The Healing Mass with the Anointing of the Sick and Aged will be on Saturday 12 October at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
On that day the guest speakers will be Bobby-Leigh Herdman and Christopher Smith who will speak about the Redemptorist Missionary Vocation.
The Blessing of Babies and Young Children will be at 2.30pm on Sunday 13 October. The novena is also celebrated at 10.00am and 7.30pm in the Church of the Redeemer Ard Easmuinn. Sunday times there are 10.00am, 11.30 and 6.00pm.
Novena director Fr Michael Cusack C.Ss.R. expects even bigger crowds this year since with so many people are in need of hope, comfort and support.
“This has been a very difficult year for so many people and more that ever before we need to know that we are not alone,” Fr Cusack said.
“The election of Pope Francis earlier this year has brought a fresh wind of change into our church and our world.
“Our new Pope has brought a new vision of concern and care and an approach to life that is profoundly personal and reassuring.
“Please God this new wind will inspire more and more people to rediscover and find faith. We need our faith to help us on the journey of life, to guide us, to inspire us and to comfort us.
“The theme for this year’s novena is ‘Stand firm in the Faith’. The daily preaching themes are taken from the teachings of Vatican II and should reflect the journey of faith that we all have in our lives.”
“The most important message that the novena should bring is a message of hope and consolation.
“This novena is always a time of great solidarity and really ignites the community spirit in the people of Dundalk and the surrounding counties, towns and villages.
“Our doors are open to all and all will be welcome. The novena is only possible because of the hard work and effort of so many dedicated women and men,” Fr Cusack said.