Covid-19 Restrictions Ease

The parish Covid-19 Committee met this week to discuss the recent easing of restrictions (6th September – see here for webpage), and what that means for the parish – especially for the liturgies in the Churches.

50% Capacity (regardless of immunity status of attendees)

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Tenure can now accommodate up to 150 members of the congregation.

The Church of Our Lady of the Nativity, Fieldstown can now accommodate up to 75 members of the congregation.

Photo by Griffin Wooldridge on Pexels.com

Stewards will be on hand to assist parishioners find a place that is comfortable for them.

Protective Measures

Masks will still be required, as will hand sanitising. Please try and maintain as much social distancing as possible, especially when moving in/out of the Church, and while receiving Holy Communion.

Distribution of Holy Communion

Holy Communion will now be distributed at the traditional time in the Mass – ie, at The Communion Rite, following the Lord’s Prayer, and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)

Please follow the direction of the Stewards.

Please allow as much social distancing as possible while preparing to receive and following reception of the Eucharist.

Please only receive Holy Communion in the hand

Please try and sanitise your hands (gels will be freely available throughout the Church) after touching your mask.

After Mass

Please do not linger inside the Church after Mass is concluded.

The Church will be sanitised after each Mass.

All other measures (ie seats cordoned off, collection baskets at the Church doors, one way systems) will remain in place until the 22nd October, at the earliest. A further review will be held by the Parish covid-19 committee at that time.

Thank you to our committee members, our stewards, and indeed to all our parishioners for co-operating with these measures designed to keep the Church as safe a space as possible.

Swapping Pulpits

Last weekend saw the first in a new initiative among the parishes of St. Colmcille’s Pastoral Area, where the local priests celebrated Masses in neighbouring parishes. It seems to have gone very well, and we would love to hear your feedback about the initiative. Please feel free to contact any of the parishes by email.

This is part of a process to facilitate closer collaboration within the Pastoral Area as the future of all our parishes will lie in this direction.

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The area takes in the four parishes on the east coast running from Togher in the North to Termonfechin in the South. Clogherhead in the East, and Tenure in the West. An area approximately 190 sq. Km. There are over 2,500 catholic families in this area. The area has 9 Churches, 9 schools, and is served by 4 active priests, with 3 priests ‘in residence’ in the area. Each parish has an active Parish Pastoral Council, and the four parishes together have a Pastoral Area Resource Team (PART), who along with the Vf (Vicar forane – an appointment by the Archbishop) promote closer working together of the Pastoral Area.

Many of the structures we have at the moment evolved in an Ireland where most people walked to Church, and at a time when there was a period of expansion in the Catholic faith in this country.  Now we have entered a new phase.  

There is a need for consolidation to take account of how faith practice has developed and will continue to develop into the future. The Covid-19 Pandemic has also had a significant effect with many people still choosing to engage with Church via webcam, and as priests become older and fewer in number, more  things will happen together, rather than in individual parishes.  

Facing the Future: 
As we go forward, it will be unlikely that there will be sufficient priests to replace all those who retire. Therefore, remaining priests will become responsible for larger areas. In order to best prepare for this eventuality, we must begin now by working together on the things we can, and putting into place the structures which will help us meet the challenges of the parishes of the future. 

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

Change is not easy – for any of us! It can bring many challenges, and often make people very fearful. However, it is important to remember as a people of faith that we do not face these realities alone. God’s Spirit is with us as we seek to navigate the way forward, especially in these post-pandemic times.

While the future will certainly bring change, there will be many things which will stay the same, and there will be new opportunites to engage with faith and Church both in our own parish and the wider Pastoral Area.

1. Praying for the future;

2. Taking part in the life of your parish/pastoral area using your gifts/talents to benefit the life of the parish/area;

3. Share your faith in Jesus with those around you;

4. Keep yourself informed and up to date with developments on this front.

Webcam Stats

This has been a real blessing to our parish. We acknowledge that, for many reasons, there are still parishioners who are unable or unwilling to return to Church. 

Of course the ‘Sunday Obligation’ remains suspended by the Episcopal Conference, and we do hope that – in time – many people will feel safe to return.  However, until then, we appreciate the ability to ‘connect’ with parishioners and those further afield in this way. 

These are our stats for the month of August.  The important number is the ‘5mins to 1 Hour’ number & the 1 hour + which shows the number of people who typically stay for the length of a Mass.

Webcam Stats for August 2021 (as of 20th August)

You can view any Mass/Wedding/Funera/Baptism held in the Church by visiting www.churchservices.tv and searching for our Church by name or county. Please share this news with friends and family who live away from the parish.

It is possible to view the live stream on PC’s, laptops and a range of Apple and Android and other devices. They also have Roku app – for their TV box and stick.

The webcam cost over €4,000 initially to purchase & install, and costs approximately €60 per week to run. Some parishioners have already given donations towards this Thank You. If you would like make a donation to support the Camera, please contact our parish office.

First Holy Communion & Confirmation 2021

Recent controversy in the media about whether the Church should hold the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion, despite public health reccomendations, prompted me to take some time this week to reflect on how we celebrate these important times in the faith journey of our young people, & their families.

Here in our parish; our principals, Patrick Logue (Chairperson & Chaplain to NS Buite, Tenure), and myself took the decision in June to cancel plans for holding the Sacraments during the summer months, and just this week, we have contacted the families affected to say that this position remains unchganged. We will make arrangements to celebrate these Sacraments when it is safe to do so – but not before mid-September at the earliest.

However, despite the disappointments, difficulties and challenges this has presented to the Children and their families, there is also an opportunity here to consider how to best celebrate our Sacraments going forward, taking into consideration that a large number – indeed, the majority – of our girls and boys preparing for First Holy Communion & Confirmation, and their families, do not attend Mass regularly. 

So, while it’s looking more likely that Communion and Confirmation will be  celebrated in the Autumn across Ireland, in the meantime we should look past cultural norms & into the heart of what the Sacraments mean. 

Passing on the Faith

The Eucharist: is so much more than a reminder or symbol. It is a Sacrament, an action of the Holy Spirit which brings about the presence of Christ in our communities, families and hearts.

The Eucharist isn’t just a noun, it is a verb, a call to action. Just as the bread and wine are taken, blessed, broken and given so also may our lives, communities and world be transformed and renewed.

We need to re-think the idea that everybody receives Communion & Confirmation just as a matter of course; It is an opportunity to think about how we celebrate important rites of passage in the Faith & whether there are new ways, better ways, of doing things into the future. One possibility is that small groups of children and their families may celebrate the Sacraments during the regular Sunday Masses.

The Archdiocese has prepared resources for families in the lead up to the Sacraments;

First Holy Communion resources can be found here;

Confirmation resources can be found here;

Please continue to pray for our children, their families, and our teachers – all of whom are directly affected by how public health advice affects day-to-day living during these pandemic times. We also remember all involved in rolling out vaccines, and the medical professionals working with the sick at home or in hospitals/institutions, and their families.

Cemetery Sunday Blessings of Graves 2021

Will NOT take place this year because of the restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

People may wish to bless their own graves at this time.

Fr. Paddy, in consultation with the committees of each graveyard; Mullary, Monasterboice & Ballymakenny, will arrange to hold the traditional graveyard Mass at a later time (possibly October), or if restrictions still remain, Fr. Paddy will celebrate the Masses privately, and record them, as happened last year;

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Mullary 2020 Blessings
Monasterboice 2020 Blessings
Ballymakenny 2020 Blessings

World Day of Prayer for Grandparents & the Elderly

Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place for the first time on Sunday 25 July 2021 on the theme ‘I am with you always’ (Mt 28:20)

Today is a day of joy and hope for all of us in celebrating and giving thanks for our grandparents and the elderly. 

Pope Francis has also granted a plenary indulgence to grandparents, the elderly, and all those who participate in a solemn celebration of this day as well as to those who spend time (actually or virtually) with an elderly brother or sister in need on this day.

Grandparents Day Prayer

I thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your presence: even in times of loneliness, You are my hope and my confidence, You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!  I thank You for having given me a family and for  having blessed me with a long life. 

I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty, for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for those that are still ahead of me. I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You call me.  Increase, O Lord, my faith, make me a channel of your peace, teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me, to never stop dreaming & tell of your wonders to new generations. 

Protect & guide Pope Francis and the Church, that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth. Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world, 

that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed, the poor consoled & wars ended.

Sustain me in weakness & help me to live life fully in each moment that you give me, in the certainty that you’re with me, until the end of the age.  Amen.

Closing of Year of Reflection & Prayer and Commissioning of Diocesan Synodal Core Group

On Behalf of Bishop Michael…

Thank you to the priests, religious and parishes who responded to the invitation to attend the ceremony in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Wednesday 30th June, or who watched it online.

The homily, in particular, provides information on the nature of the Synodal Pathway that we are undertaking at a diocesan, national and international level. It is important that when the conversation and consultation begins in every parish and religious community, people will be informed and up to date.

We will have a listening process in the diocese over the next two years in preparation for the Diocesan Assembly in 2024, but parallel to that there will be a consultation in the coming months for the Synod in Rome in 2023 and over the next few years for the National Assembly or Assemblies in 2026.

Full Closing Ceremony

Homily

The Diocesan Website for the process can be accessed here;

A Blessing of Holy Water

On the basis of age-old custom, water is one of the signs that the Church often uses in blessing the faithful. Holy water reminds the faithful of Christ, who is given to us as the supreme divine blessing, who called himself the living water, and who, with water, established Baptism for our sake as the sacramental sign of the blessing that brings salvation.

The blessing of holy water usually takes place on Sunday, in keeping with the rite given in the Sacramentary.

Since the beginning of the Pandemic, Holy Water fonts were emptied, and the use of Holy Water has been much reduced since it could be a vector for the Covid-19 virus.

However, as we slowly emerge from the restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of the virus, and are coming into the season of the Blessings of the Graves, Fr. Paddy has suggested that people bring their own water to Mass on the weekend of the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (27th June), and he will bless the water at the beginning of Mass using the rite mentioned above.

Those tuning in from home may also have water blessed for use as Holy Water for their own devotional practices – including the sprinkling on the graves of loved ones during the traditional time for the Blessings of the Graves, which will be postponed this year, with the hope that they can be held in September/October.

Here are the pages from the Roman Missal which show the Rite of Blessing of Water;

Thanks to ChurchPop for the graphic used here. ChurchPOP is a Christian culture brand that’s fun, informative, and inspirational.

St. Colmcille’s 1500th Anniversary

Pastoral Area: Along with Termonfechin (Fr Paul Byrne 98 22121), Clogherhead (Fr Martin McVeigh 98 22224), & Togher (Monsignor Jim Carroll 98  89335), our Parish is part of the St. Colmcille’s Pastoral Area.  

Wednesday 9th June was the feast of Saint Columcille and this year is a very special day, in that it will be 1500 years since the Saint’s birth in 521AD. There are three patrons of Ireland, St Patrick, St Brigid & St Colum Cille who was born in Donegal from the powerful O’Neill clan. His original name was Crimthann. ‘Crimthann’ meant Fox, possibly because he was red-haired. Sometimes he is referred to as Columba, which is the Latin for Dove.

A young Colmcille entered the priesthood at the age of 20 when he became a pupil at Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern day Co. Meath.Colmcille founded some 30 monasteries in just 10 years, inspiring many people with his personal holiness. As a result of a dispoute in 563, he was banished from Ireland by the High King, He settled on a bleak Scottish island called Iona where he would spent most of his remaining years. Colmcille spent the rest of his life on Iona praying, fasting, and teaching his monks to read and copy the Scriptures. He was a renowned ‘man of letters’, wrote several hymns and has been credited with having transcribed over 300 books and manuscripts.

Numerous Catholic schools and parishes are under the patronage of the Irish saint, with Church of Scotland, Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal Churches also have parishes dedicated to him – showing the strength of his legacy.

Iona and St Columcille: Iona is a tiny beautiful Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, cradle of Christianity in Scotland, where in 563AD the Irish monk Columba (Columkille) established a monastic settlement that evangelised large parts of Scotland & the north of England and became an important centre of European Christianity. In the Middle Ages it became the site of a Benedictine abbey, & over the centuries it has attracted thousands of people on their own pilgrim journeys. visit www.iona.org.uk

As a Pastoral Area, we celebrated this occasion with an evening Mass in the Church of Saint Columcille Togher @ 8pm on Wednesday 9th June. Celebrant was Fr Paul Byrne V.F.

Each parish will took responsibility for the ceremony as follows:
Welcome and Co-ordination: Togher parish;
Music & song: Termonfechin parish;
Scripture Readings: Clogherhead parish;
Prayers of the Faithful: Monasterboice parish;

We appreciate the work of the Pastoral Council members in all our parishes, and we look forward to what might be happening throughout the rest of this year.

St Columcille, pray for us!     Launch out into the deep Luke 5:4