Novena unites Upholland parishes

By Joanne Wallace

Parishioners from the Upholland pastoral area delivered and participated in an online daily novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham in the lead-up to her feast day on 24 September.

St Teresa’s Parish in Upholland had already planned to pray the novena to Our Lady of Walsingham prior to the latest lockdown but amid the challenge of changing restrictions, a virtual novena was decided upon so that we could reach more of the sick and housebound, those shielding and even people in other parishes.

As a consequence, the novena became an opportunity for a cross-parish venture. The novena was led on alternate days by the respective parish priests, Fr Philip Kehoe of St Teresa’s and Fr Joseph Simionato of St Marie's and St Bernadette’s, in the three different church locations. Parishioners from all three churches read the Scripture and reflections, and representatives from all three music ministries recorded music for the full nine days.

A further dimension was added with the involvement of the local Anglican curate from Upholland, Rev Chris Dunbar, and Peter Ross, a seminarian at Oscott. The project was a true collaboration and for some was a step outside of their comfort zone. Yet the feedback has been incredibly positive and is an example of what can be achieved when lay people, clergy and ecumenical groups work together generously and collaboratively.

The novena was shared on the new pastoral area YouTube account, where it is hoped that many other cross-parish prayer resources and services can be uploaded in future. It is still available to access on the YouTube channel ‘SJR Pastoral Area – Liverpool Archdiocese’.

Joanne Wallace is pastoral associate for Our Lady of the Annunciation (St Marie’s) and St Bernadette’s, and St Teresa’s.