NOVENA TO THE
INFANT JESUS OF PRAGUE
Devotional 9-Hour Novena features dynamic and inspirational speakers,
held annually on the last Saturday of January at
Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Encino, California.
The 9-Hour Novena was a brainchild of Josie Buenviaje way back in January 1984. Her idea was to have a complete devotion to the Infant Jesus by way of a 9-Hour novena (from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) followed by the celebration of the Holy Mass.
The first novena was actually held at the hall of St. Joseph the Worker Church in Winnetka (then Canoga Park) mid-January of 1984. It was organized by the husband and wife team (Ben and Josie Buenviaje) with the help of more than 20 close friends who are devotees of the Infant Jesus. Josie delivered the talks every hour on the hour, concentrating on the theme of the day, which was her original idea.
The day was completed with a blessing of children and statues brought by the devotees and a short procession on the church yard followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It was a well-attended first novena. The Group decided that the novena should be held every January (no definite date yet.) Josie planned on increasing
the propagation of the event by holding the novena in several churches in the West San Fernando Valley whose halls are big enough to accommodate the big number of devotees.
With the succeeding novenas at Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint John Baptist de la Salle, and Saint Bridget of Sweden, the halls of which were not big enough to hold the ever increasing number of devotees, the decision was made to bring the celebration back to Saint Joseph the Worker.
But prior to its return to Saint Joseph the Worker, the members decided to change the name of the organization to Infant Jesus of Prague Apostolic Group whose main purpose is complete devotion to the Blessed Infant without any form of fundraising. One of the reasons in changing the name was that the term "Novena to the Santo Nino" made many devotees think it is only for the Filipinos because of the words 'Santo Nino'.
At Saint Joseph the Worker in 1994, our new Spiritual Director, Father James Gehl (now Monsignor James Gehl, who succeeded Father Michael Slattery) directed the Group to hold the novena inside the church after witnessing the 1993 overcrowding in the hall which worried him because the Fire Department might stop the novena.
In the 12th year of the novena the members suggested that Josie appoint priests we know to help in the hourly talks and to give her some relief for all the things she does for the yearly event. Josie still has to think of the Theme of the Day and to prevent duplicity, each speaker was given a part to develop in relation to the main topic. All the speakers gladly accepted the idea. Five priests were invited and the rest of the nine-hour talk was handled by Josie. To this date, we have not repeated any of the past themes and the attendance keeps on increasing. On the early morning of December 25,2016, Josie passed away in her sleep. We do miss her so much. But we are always thankful for this wonderful legacy of hers and we continue this devotion not only because it was her life, but because we love coming together, working together to make it happen, just as we saw her always very happy to make it happen for us and especially for the devotees. We have devotees coming from all over Southern and Northern California, Texas and Pembroke, Florida. We graciously and heartily thank the Blessed Infant for guiding us in all the things we do for His Greater Honor and Glory.
On December 13, 2019, Ben Buenviaje passed away. We also pray for the eternal repose of his soul. We do miss him so much, too.
Ben and Josie Buenviaje
President, Leo V. Nevada
Vice President, Corazon P. Diamse
Secretary, Irene Monsalud
Treasurer, Marilou Cruz
Spiritual Director, Monsignor James Gehl
2023 - 2024 Officers