Novena celebrates 25th year at the Graan

John McAreavey


THE ANNUAL celebration of ‘hope’ at the Graan monastery in Enniskillen celebrates its 25th year this month.

Speakers for the nine day ‘Novena of Hope’ include John McAreavey on the opening night, whose wife, Michaela, was murdered when the pair were on honeymoon in 2011. He is to speak about how he deals with overcoming a tragic event, and his life since then.


Elma, the mother of the late Donal Walsh, from Kerry, a cancer sufferer who spoke openly against suicide among young people.

The final night sees Dr Brendan Comiskey, who resigned as bishop in 2002, following the publication of the Fernes report on clerical abuse in his diocese.

It begins on Saturday, March 22 with an array of speakers from a variety of backgrounds, each day until it closes on Monday March 31.

The programme reads: On Monday March 24, John McAreavey; Fr Jim Cogley, from Wexford, on Tuesday March 25 Hugo Duncan; on Wednesday March 26 Agnes Lunney (Positive Futures); on Thursday March 27 Dean Kenneth Hall; Friday March 28 Elma Walsh (mother of Donal Walsh); Christy Kenneally on Sunday, March 30, and Dr Brendan Comiskey SSCC on Monday, March 31. Fr Brian D’Arcy is to speak each morning.

Services for the sick take place on Wednesday, March 26 at 2.30pm with Fr Brian, and on Saturday March 29 at the same time.

When at Mount Argus in Dublin, Fr Brian was involved in setting up the original novena, back in 1978. And when he moved to the Graan in 1989, by the following year he had set up a similar service here.

By the second night of the first Graan novena, Fr Brian remembers, it had taken off.


“It had been a traditional theme with the passionists with St Charles of Mount Argus. He always preached about the value of hope.

“There were so many people that came to it after the second night that we had to close the doors – I wasn’t expecting that. The day for the sick became so crowded that the next year we had to run it with two sessions – and two days – for the sick.”

And, aside from a five year period when he moved to Crossgar, Fr Brian has been involved in each of the past 25 years. And it continues to draw huge crowds on a nightly basis.

Fr Brian added: “The fact that there are 1,000 people in a room night and night to hear spiritual talks – that in itself is uplifting.”


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