I never imagined writing those words and feel a great sadness around them.
I think it fair to say that all agree we are living in totally uncharted waters and everything within our power that might help to bring this situation to a close must be done. This clearly includes lessening occasions where people are brought together in groupings. While it was mentioned that gatherings of up to 100 may take place, the feeling is that it would be very difficult to implement this, especially in the setting of weekend Masses in parishes. In deciding to suspend the public celebration of weekday masses as well, the belief is that this would lessen the exposure of some who might be quite vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19 and thereby lessen also demands placed on our medical system which is clearly overstretched at this time. It certainly has been a difficult decision to make but, with other dioceses around Ireland, our diocese believes it to be the most appropriate at this time.
The bishops have, for the duration of this course of action, suspended the obligation on people to attend Sunday Mass and Masses on Holy Days of Obligation. Please have no concerns around this. Truth is, if you could be there, you would. God bless you all for that.I will offer Mass each day – this week for the intentions listed on the reverse of bulletin and, should any family wish to reschedule a date for later in the year, I will be happy to facilitate that. I thank you, as always, for your kindness and understanding. The Masses are to be offered in private and without congregation and this will be the case. Please know that I will remember each of you in prayer as I ask you to remember me and one another.
Should there be a funeral during this time, it will take place but families will be asked to nominate a family member who will ensure that no more than 100 people attend the Mass. We will, of course, support the bereaved in any way possible.
Our churches will be open during the day and it is hoped that people will come to pray privately and spend time in our churches. I ask those in Urlaur, Glann and Kilkelly who look after the opening and closing of the churches to continue to do so. We will suspend Eucharistic Adoration until the situation changes but, those who attend for an hour are still welcome to come and spend an hour in the church, if not too cold to do so.
I am available to you, insofar as possible, so please call me if need be. Please, as mentioned above, let us all pray for one another and for our world at this time. We are truly reminded of our dependence on one another.