It has been announced that the public celebration of Mass in the Elphin Diocese is suspended until and including Sunday, March 29 while the Sacrament of Confirmation is suspended for the time being
A statement was also issued by the Kilmore Diocese which reads: "In the current emergency situation, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass. Parishes should inform parishioners of the local possibilities to participate in Mass via local radio and on line. It may be possible for some parishes to facilitate attendance at Mass while still observing the health authority’s limit of 100 people."
Pastoral Message from Bishop Kevin:
I want to advise you of the decisions that we have made in the Diocese of Elphin, following the new directives received from the national health authorities. I am conscious that this is an anxious time for many people. It is important for us to remember the promise of the Lord that He is with us always.
Open for Prayer
In challenging times like this people find strength, consolation and hope in prayer. We rediscover the value of the traditional prayers such as the Rosary, the Memorare, St. Patrick’s Breastplate etc. We will be working to put prayer resources on our Social media in the coming days. Churches will remain open for prayer each day at times to be advised locally.
The Celebration of Mass
In View of the Government Statement and the need to avoid indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people, and the difficulty of guaranteeing this in practice, we have decided as follows:
The public celebration of Mass in the Diocese (with the exception of Funeral Mass and the Celebration of Marriage – see below) is suspended until and including Sunday, March 29, with immediate effect.
The obligation to be physically present at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days (including St. Patrick’s Day) is therefore suspended for everybody until further notice.
Priests will continue to remember the needs of parishioners at Mass celebrated privately.
The faithful are encouraged to join spiritually in the celebration of Mass, either on parish radio or on web-cam. Lists of available web-cams will be published on line.
Parishioners are also encouraged to pray at home, including especially prayers for the sick, for those who are caring for the sick and for all who are working so hard to protect us
The Celebration of Baptism
The Church continues to welcome those who come for Baptism. The following guidelines apply for the time being, as previously indicated:
The congregation must be less than 100 people
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.
The Celebration of Funerals
The following guidelines should be followed:
funeral directors and bereaved families are asked to limit participation to family and close friends so that no more than 100 people are present
members of the congregation are asked to leave the space of one metre between themselves and those next to them
people are asked to express their sympathies in a way that does not involve physical contact
Based on the advice that we now have, the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is suspended for the time being.
Our priority is to reassure children and their families in our parishes that arrangements will be made to Confirm them as soon as it becomes possible to do so.
First Penance and Communion
First Penance celebrations should be suspended until after Easter.
We have, for the moment, not considered suspending First Communion, because, in most cases, this is still over a month away.
The Sacrament of Marriage
The Sacrament of Marriage may be celebrated as scheduled, taking into account that:
the couple understand and accept that the Congregation should be no more than 100 people
those present will be asked to sit at a distance of one metre apart
shaking hands or embracing in the Church should not take place
Pastoral Care of the Sick and Sacrament of Anointing
The anointing of the sick will be celebrated without direct physical contact. This is to protect the vulnerable from any risk of transference of the virus from outside the sick-room. In practice this means that “cotton-buds” or sterile gloves should be used.
Under present circumstances, visits to the sick should ideally be limited to no more than five minutes
Meetings and Gatherings
All Diocesan or Regional meetings, including the Deanery Conversations which were scheduled to take place towards the end of March will be suspended for the time being.
All of these arrangements are under constant review. Please keep an eye on our social media for updates as they become available
I wish you every blessing in these coming weeks and I pray that, as a Christian community and as a nation, we may be able with God’s grace to overcome this significant challenge.
Bishop of Elphin