THE countdown and the wait is officially over as the annual Clonard Solemn Novena got underway today, Friday.

As we reported last week, the event, which attracts 15,000 worshippers to Clonard’s historic monastery and gardens each day during nine days in June, will be celebrated in a very different way this year. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the event, held in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, will this year be streamed live with four sessions each day.

“The organising of the Novena, is logistically, much, much simpler for us this year,” explained Clonard Rector Fr Peter Burns.

“The organising of the carpark for example is a huge challenge each year; the distribution of Holy Communion to so many people each session; we don’t have to cater for our volunteers and yet essentially what we will be doing is what we do during the Solemn Novena, all the elements will be very much there”.

Fr Burns said that the Novena is for everyone and for those who will be viewing a session throughout the nine-days can expect “singing, preaching, praying, the reading of the petitions and thanksgivings and the celebration of the Eucharist”.

“The heart of it will very much be there,” he said. 

Fr Burns acknowledged it won’t be easy for people coming online for the Novena, not simply to be spectators or observers.

“It might not be easy for them to engage or participate, but really what we are hoping for is that they will be participants rather than simply spectators.”

Fr Burns likened this year’s experience and participation to that of viewing a football or rugby match from home.

“You might not be actually there in the physical sense but it’s the experiential element to the Novena that those viewing will get a sense of when we begin at 7am on Friday.”