Phase three of the lifting of public health restrictions begins on Mon June 29th. Thankfully we will then be in a position to reopen our Parish Church for public worship. We look forward to reopening, but are mindful that in all circumstances the safety and health of people, ministers, and priests must be paramount.
Accordingly there are many restrictions which we have to abide by for the near future. At the moment our capacity is restricted to 50 people. Phase four of the reopening will commence on July 20th which will see us having some extra capacity.
• Thank you to our Parish Pastoral Council, Stewards and volunteers who have been working behind the scenes to implement the guidelines as we prepare for reopening. Please note the following:
• Weekday Masses will be celebrated each day @ 11.00 a.m. in St Mary’s Parish Church.
• Sunday Masses are: Sat evening @ 7.00 p.m. and Sunday morning @ 11.00 a.m.
• The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is lifted for the time being.
• It is most important that people who are vulnerable or unwell, should stay at home and, if possible, participate, via social media, television, or radio.
• We are unsure as to how many will attend on Sundays. It is very problematic to put plans in place. We will have to see how things go and reassess as the weeks go by. We ask you for your patience and understanding in these most unusual circumstances.
• It would be helpful if people who can attend on weekdays would do so as an alternative to Sunday Mass. This would help to free up some spaces for the Sunday celebration.
• Entry to the church will be by the front door. Exit will be by the side doors.
• Stewards will welcome and count people, and point to the signage and hand sanitisers. Please observe the instructions of the Stewards.
• We are very reluctant to turn anyone away but please understand if we have reached our capacity - we are not in a position to overfill the church.
• Anyone not able to gain entrance will be able to hear Mass from a loudspeaker outside. A Minister of the Eucharist will come to the top step to distribute Holy Communion..
• Inside, every second bench will be roped off, as will the space at the back of the church i.e. no standing spaces at the back of the church.
• Each open pew will have a label at each end and will seat two (one at each end). Couples and families from the same household may sit together.
• Holy Communion will be distributed through the Church by the priest/Minister of the Eucharist who will wear masks.
• In all cases Holy Communion will be placed on the hand, not in the mouth.
• The priest and Eucharistic Ministers will wash their hands both before and after distributing Holy Communion.
• After Mass the congregation will leave by the side doors.
• Collection boxes will be placed near the church doors - there being no regular collection during Mass.
• Holy Water fonts will continue to remain empty.
• Unfortunately it is best that the Altar Servers and Choirs do not resume their duties until further notice.
• Newsletters are for single use only and should be taken home for disposal.
• The Church will be cleaned after every ceremony.
Bishop Francis Duffy's Pastoral Letter of 28th June 2020:
RETURNING TO THE PUBLIC CELEBRATION OF MASS AND THE SACRAMENTS
We look forward to the resumption of the public celebration of Mass on Monday June 29th next. The first Sunday Masses will be on the weekend of Sat/Sun July 4th/5th.
As previously indicated we will have to comply with strict restrictions so as to ensure public safety which will present many challenges.
The Parish Pastoral Council and Diocesan Assembly delegates have been considering how best to implement the guidelines which we have received.
We will meet with the Ushers in the coming week and are very appreciative of all of the goodwill and spirit of co-operation that is evident in our local community.
Please note the following:
- See Parish Website / Church Noticeboard / Parish Newsletter for updates –
A major challenge as we reopen for worship is the task of cleaning the church after each celebration. Obviously if a number of people would volunteer it is a task that could be shared out. Could you assist please? – if so, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the Parochial House (71046) or any member of the Parish Pastoral Council.
Thank you to the ladies who faithfully clean our church to such a high standard each week. Your generous service is much appreciated.
05. JUN. 2020
“Following today`s announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the public health restrictions due to COVID19 will be eased on 29 June to allow “places of worship to resume services again, with precautions”, I welcome this news and like other priests in Ireland I am greatly looking forward to celebrating public Mass and the sacraments soon with our congregations.
“I wish to commend dioceses and parishes for undertaking preparations to facilitate the safe return of the faithful to public worship in a measured way, and for their reaching out to parishioners in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown which included the broadcasting of Mass and other prayer opportunities by webcam.
“Next week, the bishops of Ireland will meet for the first time over video-call for our Summer General Meeting. We will finalise our framework document for the return to Mass and the sacraments which will offer best practice to parishes as we begin to fully reopen parish life again.
“It is my fervent hope and prayer that parishes in Northern Ireland will also soon be able to gather for public worship in the same way as parishes on the rest of the island.
”During the pandemic we were unable to gather in the normal way for the Eucharist and other sacraments, but we have been alert to God’s presence in the lonely and the suffering. Sadly the pandemic has brought great suffering to many families whose loved ones have died because of the virus. In a lot of cases it was not possible for family members to be by their side, or to be present at their funeral. God knows our grief and how much we need strength, courage, consolation and comfort at this time. As the restrictions ease the Church will continue to assist those in the greatest need.”
Arrangements for liturgies and church events in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois during the period 13th March to 29th March 2020
CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Further advice of the Irish Bishops in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus
The following instructions take into consideration the new
norms issued by the Irish government to be in force at 18.00
(Thursday 12th March 2020).
These instructions complement the advice issued
yesterday by the Irish Episcopal Conference and remain in
place until 29th March. It is likely that these restrictions will
continue for some time after that, and instructions regarding the
celebration of Holy Week will be issued in due course.
The motivation for these new restrictive measures is a
sense of care for the common good and especially for those
most vulnerable. Each Christian community should be acutely
aware of the responsibility to care for those who are most at
risk. For example, even where it may not be appropriate to visit
the elderly, a simple telephone call to enquire about their needs
could mean so much to them.
In these times of uncertainty many will wish to visit their local church. Our churches will remain open for prayer each day at times that will be advertised locally.
The celebration of weekend and weekday Mass
Because of the requirement that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people be avoided, and the difficulties that may arise in achieving this, and always mindful of public safety and those with underlying medical conditions, the following arrangements are to be followed in all parishes:
” Because of the current emergency situation, all parishioners are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass.
” During the period 13th March to 29th March the public celebration of Mass on weekdays and at weekends is suspended with immediate effect. This includes Saint Patrick’s Day.
” Be assured that priests will continue to celebrate Mass privately and pray for the needs of their parishioners.
” Mass will be available by webcam at Saint Mel’s Cathedral www.longfordparish.com each day – 8.00am, 10.00am, 1.05 weekdays, 7.30pm Saturday, and 8.00am, 10.00am, 11.30am and 1.00pm on Sundays.
You are encouraged to continue to pray at home with your family and especially for those who are sick and those who care for them.
The Celebration of Baptism
Baptisms will continue to take place provided the congregation is less than 100.
A single jug of fresh water will be blessed and will not be reused.
Signing of the cross will take place without touch and the sacred oils will be administered with the use of cotton buds.
The Celebration of Funerals
Funeral Masses will be celebrated in church with only immediate family members in attendance and no more than 100 present. Those attending are asked to sit at least two metres apart. (www.gov.ie)
Sympathising should not involve handshaking or physical touch, hand hygiene measures will be maintained throughout the ceremony.
The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is suspended for the time being.
The Sacrament of Marriage:
The Sacrament of Marriage may be celebrated in church. Representatives of the couple are asked to ensure that no more than 100 people are in attendance in the church. People are asked to sit at least two metres apart.
Hand hygiene measures in place. No exchange of the sign of peace by means of a handshake
Pastoral Care of the Sick and Sacrament of Anointing:
Great care will be taken with the administration of this reassuring sacrament.
Priests will use a cotton bud or a sterile glove to administer the oil of the sick.
The tradition of Spiritual Communion, whereby those who cannot directly receive the Eucharist, can by their desire to receive it, also gain its benefits. Although unable to receive the Eucharist in person we are not separated from it, but drawn into a deeper appreciation and desire for its graces, which continue to be poured out to each of us.
“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You have already come, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen”.
These arrangements are subject to review. Any change will be communicated to parishes and will be advertised on the diocesan website www.ardaghdiocese.org