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The boundless love of God

Gardiner St Church hosted a diverse group of speakers for the annual Sacred Heart Novena which took place from Thursday 20 -Friday 28 June 2019, at 11am and 7.30pm. Jesuits, women, a presbyterian minister, and a bishop all took their turns in addressing the large congregation who gathered in prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Parishioners were invited for tea or coffee after that Mass and this gave them a chance to talk to one another and the speaker of the day if they wished. Two-thirds of the speakers were women and this reflected the makeup of the congregation.

Gerry Clarke SJ, PP of Gardiner St said that the retreat was an invitation to people to “gift themselves with some quiet, devotional prayer time in the company of fellow devotees of the Sacred Heart.”  And he added, “We trust that this time apart from the hustle and bustle of daily life will help people to open their hearts to a personal experience of God’s boundless and unconditional love for each and every one of his children.”

Among those giving the daily homily was Dr Ruth Patterson, a Northern presbyterian minister who for the last 21 years has been Director of Restoration Ministries, a non-denominational, Christian organisation committed to peace and reconciliation. She spoke about the importance of the invitation to eucharist and what happens to a community that gathers together to share it.

Jesuit Brendan Comerford, who has written a number of books on St Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality, focussed on how prayer can lead to the service of others. Grainne Doherty, author of  Joy of Love  – A Family Perspective spoke about the challenges and rewards of trusting in God through the ups and downs of life.

Christine Halloran is a spiritual director who is involved in a variety of Iganaitian initiatives in Gardiner St Chruch. She was part of the organising team for the novena which included Gerry Clarke SJ and Richard Dwyer SJ. Christine also spoke at the novena, sharing about the impact her mother’s death had on her. She said it was a transformative experience which saw her moving away from an old and tired vision she had of God, to a deep sense of a loving being who cared personally for her.

Scripture scholar Dr Jessie Rogers urged people not to sell themselves short but live to the full the precious gift of life God had given them. A life that was marked by God’s deep and unconditional love and the challenge to share that love with others, even our enemies.

The novena was brought to a close by Bishop Eamon Walshe on Friday 28th, who spoke about the healing power of forgiveness. His reflection pulled together a lot of the themes  – trust, conversion, thanksgiving, joy and suffering – that had emerged over the nine days.  A full list of the speakers and their homilies, along with additional notes and suggested reading, is available on the Gardiner St website. Click here to view and read.