Lochside Garage

Fr Charles putting his own stamp on the Graan Novena

Fr Charles Cross is delighted to be hosting Novena

The new Rector of the Graan Fr Charles Cross says he is looking forward to putting his own stamp on the annual Novena of Hope which begins this weekend.
The 67-year-old took over the reins at St Gabriel’s Retreat last September when Fr Brian D’Arcy moved to Crossgar, Co. Down.
Many thought Fr Brian’s departure signalled the end of the major spiritual event which attracts thousands from all over Ireland but it’s still going strong under its new host Fr Charles as it marks its 29th anniversary.
“It’s good to have the opportunity to continue the Novena which is a great spiritual event in this part of the world,” Fr Charles told the Herald this week. “It has become very well grounded and fair dues to Fr Brian for all his past work. I’m delighted to be hosting this year and to have the chance to put my own stamp on it by bringing in people that I know. We have a line up of good, grounded and rooted Christian people coming to talk to us over the nine days of prayer and reflection.”
The 2018 Novena of Hope begins this Saturday, March 3rd and will continue each day until Monday, March 12th. This year’s theme will be on family to coincide with the World Meeting on Families taking place in Dublin this August in the presence of Pope Francis.
Fr Charles will preach at the weekend opening Masses and will be joined at the Novena by seven guest preachers. These include on Monday, March 5th, Pat Coyle, Director of Irish Jesuit Communications. She trained as a secondary school teacher and has worked as a journalist and broadcaster with BBC and RTE. Fr Paul Farren, Administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry will lead the day of reconciliation on Tuesday, March 6th. The Clonmany native is an author who teaches adult religious courses in Derry and gives presentations throughout Ireland, England and the United States.
Former Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, Trevor Williams will speak on Wednesday, March 7th. He has also served as assistant chaplain at Queen’s University, religious producer for BBC Radio Ulster and as leader of the Corrymeela Community.
Cavan native Anne Loughman will speak on the theme of handing on the values of Christ to the next generation. After rearing her family, Anne went to All Hallows College in Dublin to study Pastoral Leadership and has just completed a two year course in Spiritual Accompaniment with the Jesuits.
Friday, March 9th will be a historic day at The Graan when a permanent Roman Catholic lay deacon will preach. Rev John Taafe, who is married with three children, is Pastoral Co-ordinator in Armagh Diocese and has worked for many years in the area of youth, addiction and trauma. Passionist student Anthony Connelly and Chaplain in the City of Glasgow College will speak on the weekend of March 10th/11th while Jarlath Burns, principal of St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook will close the event on March 12th. Jarlath was a Gaelic football analyst on BBC’s The Championship and The Sunday Game on RTE and last spoke at the Graan in 2003.
Health and safety fears have prompted Fr Charles to take the decision to ban tea at the event following concerns raised by organisers.
“We were worried that people might scald themselves walking up and down the aisles carrying hot tea pots. We previously stopped serving sandwiches and then found that people weren’t eating the biscuits and buns because they were off them for Lent. Some of our volunteers have also been serving tea for 30 years so naturally they are tired. Things have to change and for these logistical reasons we have decided to stop serving tea,” he added.

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