Playwright and actor Gerry Farrell brought this year’s Novena of Hope in The Graan to a close with an inspirational speech on the need for resilience.

“Gerry was talking about a messy kind of relationship we have with ourselves and how we talk to each other. It was a very positive awareness of how we act in situations and he was talking about when we come to some difficulty we either try to fight it, or we flee from it, or we freeze or we fawn over it,” shared Father Charles Cross following the final service.

He added: “Those words were very important and it was very basic psychology and just the word that he came across was the word resilience, life is difficult and there is a need for resilience.”

The Novena concluded on Monday, March 9, after nine days of prayers, inspirational speakers and fellowship.

Sharing the highlights from the nine days, Father Charles said: “On Monday we had Sister Susan McGrath talk about gambling and how addiction really ties us down. It was very good.”

He continued: “On Tuesday we had Father Niall Coll who was speaking on how the power of forgiving is still present in the church, acting on the behalf of Jesus and that was a very positive sermon and on Wednesday we had Conor McCafferty. He said we are created to care for one and another and if we stopped creating to care, our human species would have disappeared centuries ago. So it’s how we care, how do we listen, people maybe self-harming, but what is the reason behind it, not just looking at the behaviour but the motivation for why people do what they do.”

Sharing that Reverend Canon Ian Ellis of Rossorry Church of Ireland spoke at the Novena on Thursday and that some of his own parishioners came to support him, Father Charles added: “He was excellent, talking about how we are all better when we work together than when we are individuals.

He gave a very excellent, well-crafted sermon to us, with good humour and a very positive approach to the whole area of humanism, recognising that what unites us as Christians is stronger than what divides us. I think that needs to be underlined again and again.”

Other speakers during the Novena included Jane Mellet who raised awareness of Climate Change and Gina Menzies who was talking about the role of women in the church and how Jesus seen women as equals.

“He didn’t see them as people apart, that they were equal with the disciples and made a big deal about Mary Magdalene not being a prostitute and how the church in some way has failed in seeing that she was an apostle to the apostles at the resurrection,” shared Father Charles, highlighting Gina’s talk.

On the penultimate day, Father Antony Connelly preached at all the Sunday masses, talking about fear and panic in relation to the coronavirus.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about the overall success of this year’s Novena, Father Charles concluded: “It was excellent.

“Great crowds came out and there were very good speakers.

“It was a very positive, uplifting experience I think for everybody that came and we had people come from many parts of the country. I’m also delighted with all the people who helped and supported us.”