In the beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mary looks at the viewer while holding Jesus, and Jesus turns to His mother, grasping her hand, as He contemplates His future Passion.
“From this image stems the practice of the novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” says Martha Haleakala. “Just as Our Lord turns to His mother, we can look to her in times of need.”
Martha has always had a special devotion to Mary. She was born on Sept. 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her grade school was named for Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She joined St. Anthony Parish about 25 years ago, and today she is a lay Marianist.
“I immediately fell in love with St. Anthony,” Martha says. “The parish is very welcoming and open. Everyone is so hospitable.”
The Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a particular devotion that Martha and other faith community members have fostered for years. Originally, they gathered to say the novena on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in the chapel. Since COVID, they’ve been gathering at 7:45 a.m., after the 7 a.m. Mass, to pray the novena each Wednesday in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
“The novena is supposed to be prayed weekly on the same day of the week throughout the year and prayed perpetually,” Martha says. “When we switched to saying it after Mass, the timing seemed to flow better for everyone. It has brought me great comfort to know that the Blessed Mother is there listening to our prayers and interceding for us.”
Each Wednesday, about 15 to 20 people come together in the chapel to pray the novena, and several women help coordinate. One woman brings a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the prayer books, another woman leads the prayers, and another woman leads the songs.
“We sing several different hymns to our Blessed Mother at the beginning and the end,” Martha says. “We have set intentions we pray for, but we’re also very open to praying for people’s special intentions like when someone is experiencing sickness or financial hardship or looking for employment. We always pray for the parish and the conversion of sinners.”
The novena gathering is listed in the bulletin every week, and everyone is welcome to join us. You can also let Martha know if you have a special intention.
“Our Blessed Mother is so special, and the Marianists feel that sometimes the most direct way to Jesus is through His mother,” Martha says. “She is our intercessor and has Our Lord’s ear. Come pray with us on Wednesdays.”
For more information about the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at St. Anthony, reach out to Martha Haleakala at 808-269-5208.