By Nadia Maria Smith
CS&T Staff Writer
More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the Miraculous Medal Shrine for the annual novena service leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on Nov. 26.
For nine days, Nov. 17 through Nov. 25, the shrine will have six to nine novena services daily to accommodate anyone’s schedule and thousands of intentions from all over the world will be remembered.
“This is the greatest thing we can do in preparation for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Father Carl Pieber, the director of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. “This is what we call a spiritual world series. You can’t pray for nine days and not be changed. You will have new thoughts and ideas by the grace of God.”
The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM), the organization that runs the Miraculous Medal Shrine in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, was formed in 1915 to spread devotion to Mary Immaculate and her Miraculous Medal. The Blessed Mother manifested the Medal to Sister (now Saint) Catherine Laboure on Nov. 27, 1830 in the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, in Paris.
With approval of the Catholic Church, the first medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. Soon all of France was clamoring for what the people referred to as the “Miraculous Medal.”
CAMM leads hundreds in prayer every Monday for the novena service that has been held continuously since 1930. They have also offered the yearly Solemn Novena of the Miraculous Medal for the past 81 years. This year, however, each day will be themed and in honor of a specific group.
“We wanted to focus on the different aspect of people’s lives during the novena,” Father Pieber said. “We focus on people in our ordinary lives who serve us. We wanted to pray for them and let them know that this day is dedicated to them.”
The novena begins on Monday, Nov. 17, honoring all those who serve in the military. The following day, the prayers will be focused on youth. Other groups include the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, school and religious education teachers, religious and seminarians and the sick.
On Friday, Nov. 21, the novena services will be dedicated to police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. On Sunday, Nov. 23, the novena will be for special-needs families with the 9 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. Masses offered in American Sign Language.
Each day the novena preacher, Father Michael Shea, C.M., will speak on how the Blessed Mother points the way to Christ using various themes such as obedience, prayer and service.
The Solemn Novena will end with a feast day Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel Thomas at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26.
For more information or to have your intentions remembered during the novena, call (215) 848-1010. The shrine is located at 500 East Chelten Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144.