Mixed feeling as restrictions lift, with many being ground down by mental health issues from pandemic – Bishop Leahy

29 Nov 2020

Despite fatigue, we cannot let up now in efforts to overcome COVID

Sunday 29 November 2020: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that while there will be a great lift for many from the change in restrictions this week, it will do little for others ground down mentally by the pandemic and whom really need our support now.

Speaking after taking part in an ecumenical remembrance service for all who died in University Hospital Limerick, especially during the pandemic, Bishop Leahy said with Advent starting and the great message of hope that Christmas is, there are some who will not see light so easily.

Bishop Leahy also stressed that despite fatigue with the pandemic and its intrusion on our lives, we cannot let up now.

“Preparing for Christmas is always a busy time. No doubt, the re-opening of gyms and restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and retail will generate a general buzz and a feel-good factor. We can be grateful for this ‘lift’.

“And yet, as we begin to ratchet up our activities, purchases and festive preparations, let’s recognise that this year the weeks of Advent are going to require of us all a particular sensitivity to those for whom Covid-19 has resulted in gloominess, darkness and depression,” he said.

“It will be important to explore sensitively how best we can be present to people for whom light does not seem to shine in their darkness. The quality of our relationship will be as much as, if not much more, important than any quantity of gifts, treats and activities.

“A listening ear, a well-chose word of encouragement, a simple idea or suggestion might mean a lot. Of course, this might require great patience especially when the world around us seems to be whizzing along.”

Bishop Leahy said that apart from people with specific mental health issues, many people have felt a certain fatigue with the restrictions this year but there can be no let up.

“The temptation now might be to throw caution to the wind,” he said. ”What a bad mistake that would be. We need to keep up our adherence to the public health regulations and we also nee/d to not lose sight of an important lesson we’ve learned this year: slow down, look around you, notice others and their needs.”

To emphasise the message of hope that Christmas is, Bishop Leahy urged families to get a crib for their homes and give it a pride of place there.

“Yes, it’s great we can have public worship in churches, but we can have everyday faith celebration in our family. We underestimate that. The family is where most people interact most deeply, where we can be particularly sensitive to anyone who is feeling out of sorts at the moment.”

To assist people, young and old, decorate spiritually their house or enhance their own personal appreciation of these weeks leading to Christmas, the Diocese of Limerick has put together resources – prayers, activities and suggestions – on its website.