Novena group brings a shared blessing

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Home > Media > News > Novena group brings a shared blessing
Novena group brings a shared blessing

A novena group at St Mary’s Cathedral is bringing people together to pray, laugh and share their hearts each week as they contemplate the role of Mary in salvation.

The idea for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help novena group came after months of pondering by Cathedral pastoral associate, Sr Monica Shelverton PBVM.

“St Mary’s Cathedral is under the patronage of Mary and I felt we didn’t have anything particularly geared to her…for quite a few months I was just mellowing around trying to think of what we could do, and that came to my mind,” Sr Monica said.

A group of nine people have been regularly meeting each Saturday morning for the past year in the Cathedral Parish Centre.

“It’s Mary’s work, not mine,” she said.

The group uses prayer books of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The beginning of the novena group was delayed as the books were late to arrive. However, Sr Monica sees providential timing in the group’s beginning.

The morning the books arrived, she visited the Archdiocese of Hobart Archives and Heritage Collection and was struck by an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Hearing of the prayer group, archivist Pru Francis immediately offered the icon for use in the group’s meetings.

“I couldn’t believe it!” Sr Monica said.

Requests from the regular members have set the outline of meetings. The rosary has been added, as has a shared lunch after prayers are over. A hymn is sung at the beginning and the end.

Sometimes the Blessed Sacrament is present.

“It’s every week, and even in holiday time. I’ve tried to say: ‘Do you want a break?’ And they say no. It’s really, really good,” Sr Monica said.

One member who has been with the group since the beginning is Felly Allen of Risdon Vale.

She says being able to speak what is in your heart with the group is ‘lovely’, and she comes to the group because she really wants to pray.

“After we finish our prayers, I feel so happy. I just don’t know – I’m happy – that’s all I feel!”

Although she makes time to pray on her own, Felly says groups like this help nourish your faith, and she is also involved with a novena group to the Infant Jesus in Bridgewater.

For one of the newest members – Julie Glassell – the group has helped with a recent move back to Tasmania after her husband passed away.

“Sr Monica is an old friend of mine from years ago, and invited me to come, and it was the best thing for me to be involved with – the prayer and meeting people – it’s been a blessing.”

With memories of attending a Cathedral Parish novena group to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour as a teenager, she says the current-day novena group is “like coming home”.

“I feel very blessed to belong to this group, and it’s certainly helped with my re-establishment back in Tasmania.”

According to Sr Monica, each person who comes really likes to pray, and gains a lot from the company of the others.

“They are very close to each other and very concerned about one another…it’s amazing how they share little stories of people that they come across, or what’s happened in their lives that week,” she said.

“I think it’s increased their spiritual life, and they’re learning to share and they’re also learning to listen to one another.

People share their different needs and prayer intentions, but things aren’t always kept serious.

“There’s a joy about it; we laugh and carry on … we have lots of laughs,” Sr Monica said.

The members of the group have taken what she began on board and made it their own.

“They haven’t missed a day. It is amazing – even when I was away,” Sr Monica said.

“It’s not me, it’s them.”