A Novena of Grace for strange times

March 9, 2021 in Featured News, News

Christine Halloran, Pastoral Assistant at Gardiner Street Parish, reports on the latest events at the annual Novena of Grace from 4 to 12 March, 2021. It features three keynote speakers reflecting on Pope Francis’ book ‘Let Us Dream’. Click here for the original story ». Watch the Novena mass at 7.30pm each evening on the Gardiner Street Parish Facebook page » or the Gardiner Street Parish website ». The final mass on Friday 12 March will be celebrated by Fr Leonard Moloney, Irish Jesuit Provincial. Read Christine’s report below.

A Novena of Grace for these strange times

The 9-day annual Novena of Grace at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Gardiner Street, began last Thursday, 4 March and will run until Friday, 12 March. The inaugural mass on Thursday evening began at 7.30pm with the traditional Petit Mot, broadcast to an online congregation of almost 500 people. Along with those watching on the parish webcam, there were 120 online Zoom participants and around 350 followers on Facebook. Despite some technical difficulties (always to be expected with such a technologically reliant first-time production!) the feedback from participants was extremely positive and has continued to grow as the Novena has progressed. Facebook was abuzz with the realtime interaction, the congregation posting up to 250 comments, including personal prayers and petitions throughout the mass.

Inspiration and the title for this year’s Novena came from Pope Francis’ book Let us dream: The path to a better future. A new departure from the traditional format of one preacher speaking on all nine days was the decision to have three speakers this year, and to have each of them focus on one of the book’s three chapters. Fr John Callanan SJ related his homilies on the first three evenings, to the first chapter of the book entitled ‘Let us see’. Dr Jessie Rogers, has followed on with her homilies focusing on the second chapter ‘Let us choose’. Fr. Ashley Evans SJ will bring the Novena to a close on Friday 12 March after having preached for three evenings on the theme of the final chapter ‘Let us act’.

A highlight of the Novena this year was Sunday evening’s mass, when the congregation from the very popular Online Gospel Choir Mass (broadcast during lockdown every Sunday at 7.30pm via Zoom and Facebook) joined the Novena mass. Zoom participant numbers soared to around 180 and Facebook followers numbered in the 300s. To date over 500 prayer petitions have been received through the website facility, by post, by phone and through the parish office. Lampcards and candles are also as popular as ever.

Last evening saw the Flame of Faith (see image) alight on the altar of a solely candle-lit church, a beautiful and powerful symbol of God’s faithfulness to all of his children, and a beacon of faith and hope to all of those attending the Novena of Grace, in these strange and unpredictable times.

Christine Halloran

Gardiner St Church

March 2021