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‘Faith in Challenging Times’ is theme for Galway Novena

The Galway Solemn Novena made its return this week for the first time since Covid put the annual event on hold for two years.

Thousands have already attended, with many more expected at the 39th annual Novena ahead of its closing on Tuesday next, March 14.

In addition to three sessions daily from Monday to Saturday and four on Sunday, a programme of speakers has been lined up under the theme of ‘Faith in challenging times’.

Among those to speak so far was Redemptorist priest, Brendan O’Callaghan who has worked in South America as well as in Ireland, and was until recently based in Esker, County Galway.

Bishop of Clonfert and Galway, Michael Duignan will speak about ‘sharing faith as church’ on Sunday.

Ahead of this, Bishop Duignan said the Novena’s return as an in-person event was welcome, and an important moment for what has long been “a real celebration for the faith community in Galway”.

“It’s the first in-person Novena after Covid and there’s a really good line up of speakers from all walks of life and they should be very interesting.

“I know a huge amount of work has gone into it by the Cathedral Parish and I’m looking forward to it,” said Bishop Duignan.

Part of the enduring appeal of the Novena is its accessible nature, he said, and it attracted a huge variety of people from all over.

“A lot of people go that ‘dip in’. They may not be at Mass all the time but they come to the Novena and they get something from it – and they are very welcome too.

“The Novena is very accessible and feels open to everyone, and in the list of speakers, I think there are stories that people can relate to,” said Bishop Duignan.

Former professional soccer player, Keith Fahey, who played in both the English Premier League and League of Ireland, and holds 16 caps for Ireland in central midfield and on the wing, spoke on how he came to faith “through a process of struggle and surrender”.

Níall McDonagh, a former West United soccer player from Knocknacarra who became a priest after a number of family tragedies, and who spends his days working with the homeless, drug addicts and prisoners on missions across the world, will speak about ‘sharing faith in changing times’ today (Saturday).

On Monday, former Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte will talk about ‘sharing faith with those who grieve’, while Barna man Gerard Hanley, who once played for Galway United, will discuss on Tuesday how he “encountered Jesus” on a school retreat in 2005.

A guided hour of prayer by candlelight takes place nightly, except Saturday and Sunday, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

The last Mass of each day is live-streamed on

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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