Parish Priest provides update on reopening of Castlebar churches for ceremonies

The Parish Priest of Castlebar, Fr. Conal Eustace, has outlined updated plans to reopen local churches for Masses and other sacraments.

He : "Firstly, thank you to all who have volunteered to act as stewards and ushers outside and inside the Church of the Holy Rosary. We would need at least five people for each of our 10 Public Masses in the Church of the Holy Rosary and we are nowhere near that number yet.

"If you can help, please telephone the Parish Office at 094 9021844 or email cbarpres@eircom.net.

"When we are in a position to reopen it will be very different indeed to what you have been used to.

"For a start, it will be necessary to queue on the car park side of the church respecting social distancing. The number of people allowed in the church is limited to approximately 120 depending on whether we have individuals, couples or families. It is inevitable that some people will be disappointed.

"We hope that those people would listen to the Mass on the church radio in their cars and we would arrange for them to come into the church after Mass to receive Holy Communion.

"On entering the church, you will sanitise your hands and be directed to your seat, filling the church from the top seats. There will no longer be any such thing as your “usual seat”. There will be no movement within the church from entering to exiting, in order to minimise risk.

"Instructions on receiving Holy Communion and exiting will be given during Mass.

"We fully realise that everybody who is a regular Mass goer is anxious to get back to being such again.

"However, I ask you to consider the following:The first and most important thing to know is that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is dispensed with, meaning you do not have to go to Mass on Sunday.

"If you can get to one Mass during the week, that would be good. Sunday Masses should be left for families and for those who cannot get to a weekday Mass.

"This would show generosity and be a sacrifice on your part for the good of others so that they can have what you have had i.e. the privilege of being at Mass once a week.

"It seems so alien to say that staying away from Mass on a Sunday for some people is the right thing, the loving thing, the Christ-like thing to do but that is what it can be in the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves.

"Those are just some general guidelines as to what to expect when we reopen. We need to be realistic about how different and how difficult it will be for everyone.

"Next weekend I should be able to say when we can reopen. In the meantime, let me reassure you that we are doing all we can to cope with the demands that are placed on us to ensure your safety when that happens.

"Thank you for continued patience and prayers. We will need both now more than ever."

*A picture captured recently outside the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar, by Alison Laredo

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