St. Theresa Novena Hanover Twp. couple among loyal attendees of nine-day prayer service which begins Sunday

Years of devotion and tradition

MALLORY VOUGH mvough@timesleader.com

 

Anne and Paul Bedwick have been attending the St. Theresa Novena at St. George Chapel for most of their lives. The 80th annual novena begins on Sunday.   CLARK VAN ORDEN/THE TIMES LEADER

 

 

WILKES-BARRE – Paul and Anne Bedwick wouldn’t think of missing the annual St. Theresa Novena at St. George Chapel and they’re not alone.

The nine-day service, which is in its 80th year, has become an annual tradition for them and the community, attracting almost 200 people.

The Novena to St. Theresa the Little Flower begins Sunday. The Rev. Bill Bonczewski, of St. George Chapel, has been going to the Novena since he was a child. He said that people who make the novenas are seeking a variety of requests, including special blessings and graces.

“People come to discover their faith and new ways of loving the Lord,” Bonczewski said. “Some come for decisions regarding business or where to move. Some even decide to become priests after attending. When they come to pray and receive a blessing, they receive answers to their prayers.”

Prayers for healing of the sick and help with finances are a few other reasons people attend, he said.

The church keeps a book filled with testimonies of people who attended the novena, prayed and asked for a blessing, and had their prayers answered. These testimonies date back to 1939.

Paul Bedwick, 72, of Hanover Township, has been attending the Novena since he was 6 or 7 years old and attributes many of his blessings to the prayers. He and his wife, Anne, plan to begin the nine-day devotion on Sunday.

“I not only go for the nine days of prayer, I go every Monday,” Paul said. “St. Theresa is my patron saint because whatever favors we’ve asked, she’s always been there for us.”

Paul said that St. Theresa was there for him four years ago when he was gravely ill. Because he has no recollection of those 72 hours, Anne told his story.

On June 3, 2003, Paul’s heart defibrillator went off 21 times, and on the 22nd time, he went into cardiac arrest and was put onto a ventilator, Anne said. Her husband was in a coma, doctors had no hope and she was told to call their children.

Their pastor at the time, Monsignor Peter Azar, came to the emergency room and brought with him a relic of St. Theresa.

Azar stood over Paul’s bed to say a prayer, he placed the relic on the patient and began to pray. Azar and Anne describe what happened next as a miracle.

“He opened his eyes right away,” Azar said. “He looked right at all of us, and tears came down, tears of joy and of deep faith. We looked at each other with big, big surprise.”

IF YOU GO

The 80th annual Novena to St. Theresa begins at 5 p.m. Sunday and ends with a Mass at 5 p.m. Oct. 1. Prayers will be offered at 4 and 7 p.m. Sept. 24-Sept. 30.

St. George Chapel is at 79 Loomis St., Wilkes-Barre.