EAST MILLINOCKET — “This will be a wonderful opportunity for people to pray and receive the blessings of Mother Mary.”

The welcoming words of Fr. Dominic Savio, HGN, the new administrator of Christ the Divine Mercy Parish (St. Martin of Tours Church, Millinocket; St. Peter Church, East Millinocket) and St. Benedict Parish in Benedicta, are extended to anyone who would like to join the parish community in celebrating the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary with an outdoor, nine-day novena that will culminate with a “birthday party,” including cake, on Sept. 8.

“The birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary is on September 8, so we will do a novena for nine days prior to this celebration,” said Fr. Savio. “Each day at 6 p.m., starting on Tuesday, Aug. 31, we will gather outside at the statue of Mary at St. Peter Church (58 Cedar Street in East Millinocket) and pray for different intentions.”

The birthday celebration will also be held by the statue on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

Sept. 8 is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church has celebrated the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary since at least the sixth century. In fact, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland was dedicated to Mary under that title on September 8, 1869. The word novena is taken from “novem,” the Latin word for nine, and is made up of nine days of prayer and meditation usually to ask God for special prayer requests or petitions and are often used to ask specific saints to pray for us. Novenas are an ancient tradition that goes back to the days of the Apostles. Jesus told His disciples to pray together after His ascension into heaven, so they went to an upper room along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, (Acts 1:14) and joined constantly in prayer for nine days.

For more information about the celebration and novena, contact the parish at 207-746-3333.