The 77th Annual Healing and Hope Novena to Our Lady of the Snows began yesterday, July 28th and runs nightly through Wednesday August 5th, which is the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows. The Novena is held at the national shrine dedicated to her in Belleville, IL. The annual event has gone on every year during world war, economic recession, throughout the turbulent 60’s, middle-eastern wars – whatever was happening in the world and this year will be no different. Except that in this time of Corona virus, the Novena will definitely look different.
Everyone in the congregation this year will be wearing masks and they will be spaced out in the church in compliance with local regulations and guidelines to provide maximum safety during the Corona virus outbreak. The number of people physically present in the church is also limited and reservations are required. In fact, the Shrine has already received the maximum number of reservations allowed for the entire run of the Novena. Naturally the Oblates regret not being able to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend the Novena, but they must comply with state and local regulations designed to stop the spread of Covid 19.
Fortunately, those wishing to attend may still do so “virtually,” because each night’s celebration will be streamed live on the internet for viewing across town or across the world. “The Oblates hope this live-streamed Novena will be a means for people to connect through live prayer, and to hear the message at the same time regardless of distance and regardless of space,” said Fr. David P. Uribe, OMI, Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
As the celebrations are streamed, they are also being recorded and will remain available for people to watch (or re-watch) after the fact, at their convenience. Does that make a difference? Not so much according to Fr. Uribe: “I think it’s important that even though we are called to stay at home, that we’re called to be safe, we’re still being called to worship. So whether we see it live or recorded, we’re still able to participate in that spirit of worship.”
Mary, the mother of Jesus is always the focus of the Novena, this year the theme is “With Mary, on Holy Pilgrimage.” Fr. Uribe talked about the choice of the theme for this year, ” I chose this theme so that we can relate to Mary as humans, because she is human. Mary also struggled with the pilgrimage of life, everything that we experience in our lives she experienced in her life because she was on the same human pilgrimage that we are on.”
2020 has been such an extraordinary year with a pandemic, civil unrest, and so much more, can this Novena make a difference to people dealing with so much turmoil in their lives?
Fr. Uribe’s answer to the question is a definite “yes.” As I reflect on it personally, I am hoping that the Novena will be a place that reminds us that God is in control, that God is always with us and his love and protection as well. Let’s be in relationship with God, let’s be in prayer together in worship, whether we are in the building or participating online. So as we see all the negative things going on the world, let’s continue to be a relationship with God , to feel his presence with us.
The Novena continues nightly beginning at 7:30 PM, CDT through August 5, 2020. To view the celebrations live, simply go to the Shrine’s website at snows.org. click on the screen shot of the inside of the Church of Our Lady of the Snows and enjoy the celebration.
The line up of celebrants is shown below. A live link to the recording of each night’s celebration will be added daily so that you may view each night’s Mass after the fact.
Tuesday, July 28:
Accepting God’s Call in Our Lives
Presider: Fr. Nicholas Junker
Director of Vocations, Diocese of Belleville
Wednesday, July 29:
God Resting in Us
Presider: Fr. Raul Salas, OMI
Associate Director and Director of Hispanic Ministry
Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
Thursday, July 30:
Echoing Mary’s Magnificat in Our Lives
Presider: Rev. Msgr. William Hitpas
Pastor, St. Nicholas Catholic Church, O’Fallon, IL
Friday, July 31:
Shining Light into Our Darkness
Presider: Fr. Juan Gaspar, OMI
Director of Formation
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculat
Saturday, August 1:
Healing in a Place of Pain and Suffering
(includes Anointing of the Sick)
Presider: Fr. Salvador Gonzalez, OMI
Director, Kings House Retreat Center, Belleville, IL
Sunday, August 2:
Receiving Gladness in Place of Mourning
Presider: Very Rev. Louis Studer, OMI
Provincial, United States Province,
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Monday, August 3:
Reconciling Our Impatience and Critical Nature
Presider: Most Rev. Michael McGovern, Bishop, Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. Homilist: Rev. Tom Singer, OMI
Tuesday, August 4:
Healing Our Lack of Faith
Presider: Rev. David Kalert, OMI
Wednesday, August 5:
Fulfilling Our Baptismal Promises
(Feast of Our Lady of the Snows)
Presider: Fr. David Uribe, OMI
Director, Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows