COVID-19 Diocesan Update 30.03.2020

In light of Friday night’s more recent serious escalation of COVID-19 restrictions, having consulted with the Diocesan Consultors and others around the diocese I am now offering a couple of further points for your attention:

Our Churches: Having consulted wide on this issue I regretfully have made the decision that in the interest of keeping with the spirit of the more recent stringent restrictions on movement, all Churches in the Diocese should be closed with immediate effect until April 12th, Easter Sunday. As it is important to guarantee that church surfaces (seats, kneelers, doors, rails, shrines etc) are wiped down and properly cleaned regularly, this would place an inordinate burden and responsibility on priests, sacristans and volunteers. This action, which is not taken lightly is also the only way of guaranteeing that vulnerable people, who might be so inclined to call into the church to pray or light a candle are more encouraged to stay at home and keep within the regulations.

Our cocooned Priests: The new norms require that all those over 70 are to be shielded or cocooned. This applies immediately to all priests and lay staff such as sacristans who should stay indoors for the next two weeks.

Our vulnerable cocooned Parishioners: Many parishioners, due to the latest restrictions, may now find themselves cocooned. Each area has different supports available to older and vulnerable members of the community. I urge you to check which supports are available in your area with your local county council.

Chrism Mass: This year the Chrism Mass will be celebrated, keeping within the norms, behind closed doors in the Cathedral on Monday 6th April at 7.30pm. It will be streamed via webcam.

Baptisms: Following the announcement of limiting social gatherings to a maximum of four, except in the case of danger of death, baptisms should be postponed until further notice.

Resourcing Holy Week: Julie Kavanagh will issue by email soon a very practical guide to parishes for Holy Week as well as a resource for families to pray Holy Week at home. I will address Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil in the coming days.

Holy Week Schedules: In this unique year, it is accepted that all ceremonies will be very different and the congregations will be entirely following them online, on webcam, on facebook, through parish radio, on local radio, on Shalom and on RTE.
Parish schedules will be made available once we have the compiled the information.  

Confession: Some may be concerned with fulfilling their ‘Easter Duty’. The normal schedule of Confessions in churches has ceased for the time being. Catholic doctrine teaches if a person cannot get to Confession, it is sufficient to confess one’s sins to God, seeking forgiveness and with the intention of going, when it is safe to do so. God forgives the sins and the person is renewed in heart and soul.

I apologise for such frequent updates, but you will appreciate we are in a very fluid situation. In the coming days I hope to issue more definitive guidance on Funerals and Holy Week. It is so important to support one another with our prayers, our phone calls and our messages. As Pope Francis very movingly reminded us on Friday night last, in these difficult, challenging days for us all “The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love”. No matter how isolated we or our parishioners may feel, we are apart but never alone.

Every blessing & thanks,
+Denis