Today

Mon, July 13, 2020

Coronavirus Parish Letter

St. Columba and St James’
 
Coronavirus
 
25th March 2020
 
 
Dear All
 
We are now living in an unprecedented time which sadly is having a huge impact on all of our lives. This is affecting every aspect of our daily living including that of the way that we come together as a parish. Painfully it impacts greatly on the way which I and every priest are able to minister to our parishioners.
Yesterday Bishop John sent a letter to the priests which contained the following information.
 
  • Places of Public Worship are to be closed.  So, as of today could you now ensure that your churches are closed to the public.  Some confusion has been caused around this by government Guidance issued late last night after the Statement and we are looking to clarify this but, for now, could we keep our churches closed.
 
  • Citizens are to stay at home unless for absolutely necessary business.  It would be good if we could give witness to our people in honouring this instruction, and encourage them to do the same.  We will be seeking clarification from the Government as to what might constitute essential pastoral work, as in the care of the dying at home, care homes or hospitals.  For now, we have to presume the Statement implies that we should not attend Sick Calls.  So, please do make widely known the generous grant of Plenary Indulgences by the Holy See to all who are sick or dying and to those caring for them.  In effect, it means that the sick are not deprived of the necessary salvific graces that would have come to them through the Sacrament of the Sick, even though they will miss our pastoral closeness in person.  Paul Brady has sent you the Decree of Indulgence and it would be good to study it and make yourself familiar with it. Thanks to Gerry Gallagher who has kindly made a summary of the Indulgence which I have attached.  Also attached is the decree on the grounds for General Absolution which may be needed in Hospitals.
 
  • No Baptisms or Weddings are to be celebrated.  Could you please also advise your catechumens and candidates that you will arrange for their reception into the full communion with the Church at a later date.  Please avoid other Baptisms except in cases of danger of death. 
 
  • There is an exception for Funerals. Obviously, since Places of Public Worship are closed, funeral rites will be held at the place of committal. Please make arrangements with families by ‘phone in place of home visits.   We consulted a number of funeral directors after the Statement and can pass on our advice.  Funeral undertakers are aware of their duty to ask mourners to limit attendance to immediate family but please reinforce this yourself.  In Saint Conval’s Cemetery our groundsmen will lower the coffins themselves, and funeral directors will generally ensure mourners keep safe social distancing.  You should try to go directly to the grave, or to the podium at the crematorium, and greet the undertaker and family there.  Funerals will take place throughout the day.  Please try to advise families a Memorial Mass will be arranged at a later date. You may want to offer your Mass that day for the intentions of the deceased and let the family know. 
 
So what does this mean for us?
  1. All Baptism and weddings have to be postponed until a later date. At present a number of baptisms have been arranged for St. James’ and St. Columba’s. I will be in touch with the parents to postpone them. One wedding has been arranged for September. Hopefully this may still be able to be celebrated as arranged. A number of couples have arranged to celebrate their marriages abroad. Please keep them in your prayers. This is a very stressful time for them.
  2. Visitation of the Sick. All priests have been instructed not to visit the sick and the housebound even in the most critical of times. As a priest this is very painful. It means that we are not allowed to administer the Sacrament of the Sick, even to the dying. However, the Church has instructed that a plenary indulgence is granted tot eh sick, the dying and to those who care for the sick. This means that the sick and the dying will receive the same “Salvific Grace” that they would receive if they had been anointed.
  3. Funerals: We, as priests, are not permitted to celebrate a public Funeral Mass but only to pray at the place of committal, whether it is at the cemetery or at the crematorium. If we do have a funeral, I will celebrate mass privately for the person before meeting the family at the place of committal. Only close family will be able to attend the committal. After this crisis has passed, we will arrange for a full Requiem Mass to be celebrated. Again I realise that this will be very painful for families. It will be for me as well.
Please keep safe. In this time let us pray for one another. Today is the feast of the Annunciation. We remember that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, asking that she will be the mother of the Son of God. Through her a Saviour was born to us. This Saviour Jesus remains with us, even in this time of fear and uncertainty. He comes to bring us hope and joy. So let us not despair. God-is-with-us
 
Fr. John

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