The Diocese accepts the recommendations of the HSE with regard to precautions and restrictions as are necessitated by the ongoing spread of the coronavirus in Ireland.
From the outset, the Diocese urges people to keep an eye to parishioners who may be isolated at this time.
The Diocese is mindful of the necessity for prayer at this time and in union with all other Dioceses in Ireland it invites parishioners to place trust in the Lord, asking Our Lady to intercede for us. Prayers are included below.
As people of faith, we are called to face the fears of this moment with a courage not our own and with a generous heart. God is with his people in good times and bad. Like believers in every age we say: ‘If I should walk in The Valley of Darkness no evil would I fear, for You are there’. In our hour of trial Jesus calls on us, his followers, to serve the common good by taking responsibility for each other and to prioritise the most vulnerable in our community ahead of our own individual wants and aspirations. At this time our first concern has to be for the elderly, the ill and those with underlying medical conditions.
Parishioners who have symptoms of coronavirus are asked not to present themselves at Church. Likewise those with underlying conditions and those who are considered vulnerable are dispensed from their Sunday obligation to attend. We strongly encourage people with such conditions to be spiritually united with their local community. Where possible they should avail of parish radio broadcasts and webcam. While in church and as far as possible people are asked to keep a safe distance from one another, in keeping with current advice.
Regarding the specific recommendations of the HSE with regard to gatherings, the following has been decided. While acknowledging that the following directives will involve sacrifice for all, we encourage a positive engagement in order that the most vulnerable amongst us can be protected and so that the coronavirus can be contained.
- Confirmations within the diocese are suspended until further notice.
- For funerals, as only 100 are permitted to assemble within the Church, people are asked to be mindful of the priority that needs to be accorded to family and close friends. Prayerful attendance at the cemetery (500 people) is an option for members of the wider community. Again, it is clear that people with underlying conditions, and who are vulnerable, should not attend funerals. For the same reason, when sympathising, people should notshake hands.
- During baptism, the celebrant will sign the child with the Cross without touching. Where there is more than one child being baptised, a single jug of fresh water will be blessed and used. The anointing with the Holy Oils will be administered by the use of cotton buds.
- In the current emergency situation, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass. That said, Sunday Masses can proceed as scheduled for congregations of up to 100. In cases where the numbers exceed this figure, parishioners returning home without Mass are asked to consider private and / or family prayer. Weekday Masses can proceed in a similar manner.
In short – Sunday Masses, weekday Masses, weddings, funerals and baptisms may be celebrated once the requirement that attendance in Church does not exceed 100 people is respected.
- All non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings, such as formation gatherings, retreats and seminars are cancelled.
- Concerning the pastoral care of the sick and the administration of the sacrament, the priest will use a cotton bud or surgical glove for the anointing with Holy Oil and dispose of them appropriately.
- Collection baskets: priests are asked to provide an alternative to the practice of passing collection baskets through the congregation. The faithful are asked to continue their generous contributions to the upkeep of their parish. It is important that hand sanitiser is provided at each entrance of the church, (where is can be sourced). The faithful are asked to continue use of their personal supplies in light of current shortages.
- Holy water fonts should remain empty.
- The Sign of Peace is not to be expressed by hand shaking.
- Only the priest will receive from the chalice at Mass.
- Having received Holy Communion, and before and after distributing, the priest and ministers should sanitise their hands.
As the situation evolves, Church-specific information will be updated and published on the diocesan website – www.ferns.ie
Extract from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer. Amen.