The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Reflection on Cork Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel (Fr. Tom Sexton osa)

Each year in Cork, when April comes round, the crowds come out and head for St. Augustine's in Washington St., for the annual novena. It is the only Augustinian church in Ireland, and one of the few throughout the world, where the traditional nine day novena still takes place. Each year the community wonder if the people will come, especially in these days of churches that are less than full. But the fears were unfounded and the crowds came three times each day at 11.00, 4.00, and 8.00.
The morning session at 11.00 is always the most popular but the others were also well attended. In recent years there is an added advantage in that the church can be seen via the internet so people are able to follow the Mass and devotions around the world. Comments and requests for prayers came in from the UK, USA, Australia, and various other places. Some of these have been following the novena for years and looked forward to tuning in once more. Others had been part of the church congregation in previous times but now relish the fact that they can link in though far removed from Cork.
Jimmy Browne, IC, had been booked as preacher since last year but some months back he reported that he could not honour it as it clashed with a Chapter in Rome. The preaching was split between different men. For the first two days we had the retired bishop of Killaloe, Bishop Willie Walsh, giving his input on cherishing and deepening our Faith in this Year of Faith. On the third day an in-house preacher, Tom Sexton, o.s.a., challenged us to be inspired by our dreams and inspirations to follow the way of the Lord, as Joseph and Mary did. For the other six days we were led by our Provincial, Fr. Gerry Horan, o.s.a., who reflected on various scriptural themes and reminded us of Mary's role as mother, model, and intercessor in her life on earth, a role that she continues now for us in heaven. On one of the days there was a special anointing of the sick during the Mass, where we were assisted by priests from the other religious houses in the inner city.
The atmosphere was vibrant each day with the congregations in a good singing mood at every session led by different cantors. They were helped by hymns projected on the church wall through the technology operated by our Prior, Fr. Pat Moran, o.s.a. Most people know the first few lines, maybe even the first verse, of many hymns, but get stuck beyond that. With the words on the wall they were able to join lovingly and lustily to the very end, and relished the opportunity to praise Mary, especially with the special Good Counsel hymns. Experienced members said it was the best novena in years. While many of the congregation were in the Free Travel category we were also happy to see some of the younger faces among them. We trust that Mary will keep them linked to her Son in the days and years to come.  
Tom Sexton, o.s.a.

Article posted on 1st of May 2013

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