Since the 1989 Christmas season, friends of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth have been praying the special Holy Family Novena with the sisters for the nine days leading up to the Feast of the Holy Family on the Church calendar.
This feast is celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and January 1, or, on December 30 if the Sunday after Christmas happens to be January 1. Today, the novena is prayed across the country in English, Spanish and Polish (the Spanish translation was provided by the Sons of the Holy Family, a congregation of men founded in Spain with homes in Maryland and New Mexico).
This particular custom has its roots with the sisters in Pittsburgh. During the summer of 1989, Sr. Cathy Fedewa was on retreat in Toledo, Ohio. “I sat down during the holy hour one day, and all of a sudden, an idea came to me for this novena,” Sr. Cathy recalls. “It definitely was an inspired piece; I had no preconception about doing this. I don’t know where it came from, but the words were just there.” That holiday season, the sisters in Pittsburgh received ecclesiastical permission from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to print the novena.
Each day of the prayer focuses on a different aspect or form of family life, some of them non-traditional. “For all families… for new families… for families in pain… for persons without families… for our brothers and sisters throughout the world…” Sr. Cathy explains, “When I was thinking about this prayer, all of those different aspects of family life came to me.”
You may also request copies of the novena in English, Polish or Spanish, here.