A Novena to remember

June 26, 2024 in News

There was a large crowd in attendance for the annual Sacred Heart Novena in Gardiner Street Church, which this year took place from 30 May until 7 June 2024. The preachers were Fr Michael Kirwan SJ, Fr Tom Casey SJ, and Fr Tom Layden SJ.

Jesuit Father Tom Layden SJ was particularly glad to be back in Gardiner St for the Novena. He recalled how back in 1980 he was in ministry in the church. His main job was helping the sacristan and lighting the votive candles in their little red containers, It was a job that had to be done several times a day and he even had to climb up behind the altar on a ladder to change some of the lights when necessary. Despite being nervous initially, he caught on and became confident in his task.

Fr Tom says all the time doing this work he couldn’t help noticing the faith of the people who came to light their own candles in the church. Their devotion touched him, he said, and strengthened his faith. “In some ways those little votive lights are a symbol of what happens during a novena,” Fr Tom observed. “The gift of God’s love comes to enlighten our lives. The warmth of God comes cheer us, to encourage us, and to build us up.”

In the 1980’s Fr Tom says he was only starting out on his Jesuit journey. It was all very new to him and he had fears and anxieties. But the lighted candles filled him with a sense of hope in God’s presence- a presence offered to everyone. “God is the one who protects us in our faithfulness. Jesus accompanies us as we walk on our pilgrim way. And as we do this novena, he tell us, as in the gospel, ‘do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid’.”

Commenting on the success of the novena, PP Father Niall Leahy said, that he and the parishioners appreciated all the homilies very much and the themes of faith, hope, and love that flowed through them. The prayers and requests of those who attended the novena are still remembered in the candles that continue to burn in the church.