It’s Clonard time again for so many worshippers

Clouds part to let sun shine on the 70th Novena

By Ciara Quinn

THE sun shone on West Belfast as thousands of worshippers turned out for the first session of the 70th Clonard Solemn Novena yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

People of all ages and from right across the city and far beyond made their way to the iconic West Belfast church as prayers began at the 6.45am Mass.

Clonard Rector Fr Michael Murtagh told the Andersonstown News that he was “delighted” with the exceptional turn-out so far, adding: “We are always so happy to welcome people back to Clonard every year, it is their Novena, they are the ones who make it every year.”

He went on: “Thank God it has been warm and sunny so far and we are confident we will have the weather on our side throughout the Novena run, but of course we are prepared for every eventuality.

“The Clonard Novena is very much the people’s event. We’ve been hearing about the G8, well this is the start of the G9 – nine glorious days of prayer, petitions and reflection.

“We have 10 services throughout the day starting at 6.45am and running through until 11pm at night which gives everyone a chance to attend.

“The Novena is an experience of God and it’s really an experience of the Church at its best and we look forward to welcoming and praying with the people as we get under way.”

We took a walk around to speak to the faithful. 81-year-old Elizabeth McCann says she “loves” attending the annual Novena. “I have been going every year, it’s such a lovely event and it’s very special. You are treated so well,” she said.

Anne Mackle, who had travelled from Portadown, said: “I have been to the Novena twice before so this is my third visit. I would put in thanksgivings and petitions, there is such an outpouring of faith and it is such a peaceful experience.”

“I have been coming to the Novena for many years,” said Arthur Harmon, “my faith brings me here, that and my love for Our Lady. It’s a very special time for the area.”

Linda Burns told us: “The Novena is just really powerful, especially for a special intention – it just works.

“I have been coming for 20 years now because it is so powerful. It helps people. With the sun out shining you are guaranteed the Novena is on.”

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