Care for one another during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Following the Government's recent announcement of restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish Episcopal Conference issued instructions governing liturgical celebrations, administering of Sacraments and pastoral care. These instructions will 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. While acknowledging these directives will involve sacrifice for all, the bishops encourage a positive engagement in order that the most vulnerable amongst us can be protected and so the coronavirus can be contained.
Mullingar Parish has implemented the following changes in response to the instructions:
Bishop Deenihan has requested that all Public Masses will be suspended with immediate effect until further notice from the statutory authorities.
In these extra-ordinary circumstances all parishioners are dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass. They are encouraged to avail of religious services and unite in prayer via radio and on-line facilities. Those particularly at risk or those with underlying conditions are advised to remain at home.
The cathedral will open each day 10.30am to 8pm each day for private and personal prayer and St. Paul's from 10.30am to 5pm. In these difficult and uncertain times, people find strength, consolation and hope in prayer. It is therefore important the Church offers a message of hope and consolation at this time.
Daily Mass Schedule: The priests of the parish will continue to offer daily Masses in the cathedral at 7.45am, 9.15am and 10am without a congregation present. These Masses can be followed through the webcam service, accessed at www.mullingarparish.ie. Although parishioners will not be in attendance, these Masses will be offered for the intentions previously booked.
Sunday Mass Schedule: Sunday Masses in St. Paul's, Brotenstown, Walshestown and Gainstown are suspended until further notice. Those who have booked Masses in these churches can contact the Parish Office in due course to reschedule. Masses in the cathedral will be broadcast via webcam at 6pm(Sat), 8.30am, 11am and 12.30pm. As with the daily Masses, these Masses will be offered by the priests of the parish for the intentions previously booked.
Altar Servers: should not serve at Masses during this period.
Should families wish to reschedule daily or Sunday Masses, please contact the Parish Office.
Funerals: The parish will continue to celebrate the funeral rites of the Church during this period. Removals and Requiem Masses will be celebrated as the need arises with only the immediate family and relatives in attendance. We wish to express our thanks to our local Funeral Directors for their support at this sensitive time.
Weddings: At present, wedding ceremonies can be celebrated on condition the attendance in Church does not exceed 100 people. If couples wish to discuss these restrictions or reschedule, they should contact their local priest or the Parish Office.
Confirmations: All Confirmation ceremonies are postponed with immediate effect. Contact will be made via the schools when restrictions are relaxed and ceremonies rescheduled.
Baptisms: Baptisms will proceed as scheduled; however only parents and godparents should be in attendance. Parents with baptisms booked can contact the Parish Office and reschedule if necessary. Please note: a new date cannot be given until restrictions are removed.
Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament:
When the cathedral closes each evening, the priests of the parish will conduct a Holy Hour of Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at 8.00pm. Parishioners are encouraged to unite in prayer via the webcam in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Sacrament of Confession: The Sacrament of Confession will remain available at the scheduled time of 2.30pm on Saturdays for the foreseeable future. The Sacrament will no longer be administered in the Confession Box, but in the sanctuary area. Parishioners are reminded to observe an appropriate ‘social distance' from other penitents while waiting to avail of the Sacrament.
The sick and housebound: The priests of our parish will continue to minister to those who are sick and in need of anointing and viaticum. Contact should be made with the Parish Office for the priest to call to administer the sacraments.
12 Mass Challenge and Stations of the Cross are suspended for this Lent.
For those who are housebound we would remind them of the services provided by EWTN (Sky 588) and Radio Maria (Saorview, Channel 210 or by downloading their free app - Radio Maria Ireland).
Our priests continue to offer a full chaplaincy service to our local hospital and their pastoral care of the sick and dying will remain an integral part of their ministry during these times.
St. Patrick's Day Celebrations: Mass will be celebrated in the cathedral at 6pm, 8.30am, 11am, 12.30pm without a congregation present. These Masses can be followed via the parish website.
All non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings such as Parish Pastoral Team, Baptism meetings, Parish Finance Committee are cancelled.
In Mullingar, as in every parish, we have financial responsibilities to those employed in our parish and the current restrictions and suspension of Masses will impact significantly on our financial resources and ability to meet those responsibilities. We would like to thank parishioners who continue to support our parish, its pastoral services and its work.
This is an occasion for all of us - especially in families -to pray more intensely for each other and especially for those who have succumbed to the illness. We should pray also for those in the frontlines - especially doctors, nurses and medical staff and other carers, including clergy - that the Lord will protect them as they place their own wellbeing at risk in the service of all.
Our thanks to the local newspapers for assisting in the dissemination of information to the public.
Should the Parish receive additional information, we will review the aforementioned protocols accordingly.
A Coronavirus Prayer
Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages "curing every disease and illness." At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Amen.