History of the Novena of Hope
Our Lady of
was in a conversation with the late Fr. Bonaventure that the idea of a
Novena of Hope specifically came to me. The connection with Blessed
Charles and the traditional link with our congregation and Our Lady of
Holy Hope would make an ideal combination for Mount Argus.
The first Novena of Hope was held in October 1978. I remember the first Novena of Hope for a number of reasons; I had injured my knee in September of that year and I was awaiting an operation in the Mater Hospital. As luck would have it, the operation was to be on a Tuesday, right in the middle of the Novena! I therefore agreed to open the Novena on the Sunday before the operation and daily, visitors explained how it was going.
My second reason for remembering it was more significant - our present Holy Father was elected Pope during the first Novena of Hope. Later, we moved the Novena to May because it would attract young people wanting to pray for upcoming exams and because we felt that the brighter evenings would be more helpful.
Around this time, with the help of Sr. Maria and later, of course, Sr. Una, the late Fr. John Francis devised the Blessed Sacrament visitations that were an essential part of the Novena for the following ten years at least. It was, in my opinion, the single most important reason why the Novena was such a huge success.
Even in those days, we insisted on the value of lay people preaching and especially, lay women. We had many wonderful lay persons preaching among whom were Angela McNamara and the lady who is now President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
This year 1999 we had lay people too. Christy Keneally talked about bereavement and we had the first woman to be ordained in Ireland, Rev. Ruth Patterson from the Reconciliation Centre in Dunmurry, Belfast.
The Novena prayers, which were settled on in 1980, were composed by The, Little Sister's of the Assumption in Mount Argus Grove. The very same prayers are used in the Novena in all our other churches this day. 1980 was also the year we introduced the day for the sick. That was an experience! We had organised it for the Saturday afternoon and had sought the help of the Hospice, the Order of Malta and many other agencies within the parish and district.
We knew that several hundred people were coming to it, yet, at half-past two, the church was empty! I went to the back of the church to find two venerable Passionists (now happily with the Lord) who stood guard at the door insisting that people who were fit to walk into the church weren't fit subjects for the Sacrament of the Sick! Delicate negotiation ensued and the day for the sick came to be another essential element in the Novena of Hope in Mount Argus and elsewhere.
Each year in Mount Argus, and other parishes in which its take place the Novena brings New Hope, New Life and New Growth to God's people.