2020 Novena Theme: ‘By His Wounds, We Are Healed’

SCRANTON – The 96th annual Solemn Novena to Saint Ann at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Ann in West Scranton will begin on Friday, July 17, and continue with consecutive days of Eucharistic worship, devotional prayer and preaching, culminating with the celebration of the Solemnity Feast of Saint Ann on Sunday, July 26.

Very Rev. Passionist Father Richard Burke, rector of Saint Ann Passionist Monastery and director of the Saint Ann National Shrine Basilica, announces the guest preachers for this year’s Solemn Novena will include Passionist Fathers Mark Ward and David Colhour and Passionist Brother Andre Mathieu. Both Father Mark and Brother Andre currently are members of the Passionist religious community at Saint Ann’s.

According to Father Burke, the trio of Novena preachers have chosen “By His Wounds, We are Healed” as the overall theme for the annual ten-day devotion to Saint Ann – mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus.

“Their theme reflects the place of the Passion of Jesus in our spiritual lives and the continuing power of His Passion penetrating the circumstances of our lives, even today,” the Passionist superior said.

Father Burke also shared that the 2020 Saint Ann Novena celebrates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Passionist religious congregation, whose charism is to foster perpetual remembrance of the Passion of Jesus among the Church’s faithful.

“The Passionists do so by teaching others to pray about Jesus’ Passion and see (it) as a forming foundation of life leading to new life,” he explained.

Father Mark Ward has embraced and shared in the Passionist ministries in the Diocese of Scranton since 2018. A native of Dunkirk, N.Y., Father Mark entered the Passionist seminary of Holy Family in West Hartford, Conn., in 1965. He was ordained a priest for the Congregation of the Passion in 1975 and prior to arriving in Scranton, served as rector of Saint Paul of the Cross Monastery in Pittsburgh.

A native of Hartford, Conn., Brother Andre Mathieu made his profession of religious vows in the Passionist order in 1962 and has ministered in various pastoral, formation and leadership positions in the Eastern Province of the Passionists throughout his religious life. For the past eight years, Brother Andre has belonged  to the Passionist community at Saint Ann Monastery, where he is the current Vicar (assistant superior).

Father David Colhour entered the Passionist congregation in 1988 and celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination as a Passionist priest last year. The Loveland, Colo., native son has ministered to the faithful at Passionist retreat centers in Detroit, Houston, Citrus Heights, Calif., and Bangalore, India, since 1994. Father David recently completed theological studies to assume his appointment as local superior of the Passionist community in Chicago, as well as to continue his leadership in the religious congregation.

Father Burke commented that this year’s Novena preachers will specifically encourage their congregation of listeners to be mindful of the continuing healing power of Christ’s Passion in their lives. He said they will explore the following spiritual themes through their daily homilies:

Discovery: How do we discover who God is and what our relationship with God is called to be • Grieving • Living in hope through the turbulence of life • Challenge: What is my mission in life and where do I go from here? • Pruning, to bring about greater fruitfulness in life • Healing life’s hurts • Awesomeness: Seeing life in a new way • Praying: What is it really? • Making Love Work: Discovering the genius of God’s love in the Wounds of Christ • We Live All Alone & Together: Community of faith.

In addition, the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Catholic Rite celebrated by Bishop Kurt R. Burnette of the Passaic Byzantine Eparchy will be offered on Tuesday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m. in the Basilica of Saint Ann. The Solemn Closing of the Novena will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. on Saint Ann’s feast day, July 26, with Bishop Joseph C. Bambera presiding.

Stating that the guest preachers will take their lead from the founder of the Passionist congregation – Saint Paul of the Cross – Father Burke noted that the general and daily themes for the Solemn Novena will strike a chord of relevance to the current COVID-19 global pandemic. “We have much to pray about these days,” he said.

Father reiterated that all recommended precautions for the coronavirus health crisis will be strictly followed, and that elderly devotees and those with underlying medical conditions are encouraged to remain at home and participate in the Solemn Novena via televised broadcasts.

The implemented changes in order to adhere to current restrictions and protocols for public gatherings include the required designation for seating to comply with social distancing guidelines, which will allow a maximum of 135 faithful in the Basilica church.

Hand-sanitizing stations are installed and congregants are requested to enter the Basilica through one front door and leave by way of an “exit only” door.

“Our goal is to pray fervently and pray safely throughout the ten days,” Father Richard said.