COVID-19 Diocesan Update, Wednesday 1 April 2020
There has been concern around the celebration of funerals and what might happen Holy Week. I offer the following guidelines:
Funeral Masses: The most recent advice from the government suggests once there is a clear limit of ten people attending the Mass and ‘social distancing’ norms adhered to, funeral Masses (without Holy Communion) may continue. Individual churches may also put in place restrictions which respond to specific parish circumstances. The limit of ten people applies also at cemeteries and ‘social distancing’ must once again be observed. We are as much at risk in a cemetery as we are in a church. Further guidance from the HSE is being developed.
Covering Duty these more restrictive days: 36 of our parish priests and curates are currently cocooned, 22 are retired and also cocooned. Special thanks are due to the 47 priests under 70 who are shouldering the ministry of our 56 parishes at this time. It is greatly appreciated. Please don’t place huge expectations on these men, as they too must look after their health these days. Thanks also to the Vicars and Consultors for checking in on those who are cocooned.
Webcam Celebrations: I very much encourage the use of webcam, Facebook, local radio and any other device that brings your message into parishioners’ homes. As mentioned already do not restrict the webcam or parish radio just to Mass, offer other liturgies and reflections as you see appropriate, such as greetings of support, encouragement and continued connection with your parishioners.
Adoration Time: It has been suggested while church buildings are now closed, the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed at the usual times and the times well publicised locally. Committed adorers and others might be encouraged to go to a quiet space or room in their home, and if possible with the aid of Webcam, spend their usual time in reflection and prayer to the Lord. We hardly need to be reminded of the great need for prayer at this critical time. Others may well do likewise.
Chrism Mass: The Chrism Mass will take place, under very restrictive conditions next Monday in the Cathedral. An online resource for priests and people will be sent out shortly. iCatholic will broadcast the ceremony streamed onto the KANDLE website, so that a greater number across the diocese can join us.
Resourcing Holy Week: Julie Kavanagh will issue by email a very practical guide to parishes for Holy Week as well as a resource for families to pray Holy Week at home.
Holy Thursday: The Washing of the Feet is omitted. Perhaps a jug of water, a bowl and towel could be placed on a table, allowing those following on webcam to focus their attention on the tremendous service of healthcare frontline teams in these coronavirus days. At the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle.
Good Friday: While a Cross is venerated, it is not kissed, but perhaps time is given through the webcam for those at home to make their spiritual veneration. I recommend where possible that the Stations of the Cross be offered on the webcam at some time during that day.
Easter Vigil: There is no preparation and lighting of the Easter Fire. The Vigil begins with the lighting of the Paschal Candle. There are no baptisms at the Vigil this year, just a Renewal of Baptismal Promises.
Holy Week Ceremonies in your Parish: Details of parish ceremonies will be posted on this website in the coming days.
In conclusion: I thank you for the enormous cooperation ensuring these regular updates are fully adhered to. While these restrictive measures are in force until Easter Sunday, it would be foolish to think that the current situation will not continue for a while yet. I am certain this prolonged period will bring mental and spiritual stress to many, including priests. As always I encourage and thank you for looking after each other and your parishioners to the best of your ability in these difficult days. While our church buildings may be closed, the church continues in a very different way than we might ever have imagined. Let us continue to serve the Lord with gladness as best we can.
Every blessing & thanks,
Wednesday 01 April 2020