HOLY WEEK The solemnity and poignancy of Easter is reflected in a cross silhouetted against a late evening skyline at St Tiernan’s Church, Crossmolina last week. Pic: David Farrell
BOTH the Archbishop of Tuam and the Bishop of Killala are unable to take part in Easter liturgies in their respective cathedrals in Tuam and Ballina, as they are both over 70 and ‘cocooning’ as part of the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, is 73, and Dr John Fleming, Bishop of Killala, is 72.
Easter liturgies as part of Holy Week will this week take place in parishes throughout the county without any congregation, and traditional practices, such as the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, will be suspended.
Reverend Francis Mitchell, Diocesan Secretary in the Archdiocese of Tuam, explained that while congregations will not be present during the Easter ceremonies, he hopes that parishioners will avail of modern technology to bring the services into their homes.
“In parishes where priests are not cocooned, the Holy Week ceremonies may be celebrated, and where the facilities exist he [Archbishop Michael Neary] is asking them to be broadcast on parish radio or streamed live on the webcam. In parishes where priests are not available because of cocooning, he hopes the parishioners will tune into a neighbouring parish or to the cathedral [in Tuam].
“It [Easter] is the pinnacle of the Church’s year and a time when we celebrate the high point of our faith, so it is appropriate we celebrate with the people. It is completely alien to us to not be able to celebrate with the people, and for the people it most be equally traumatic because they cannot come out to church. It is very difficult for everyone, but we are happy to do it in the interest of public health and that is the reality of the situation.
“We are trying to be as close to the people as we can in the current situation while staying apart. The people cannot come out of their homes and we are trying to go into their homes through the electronic means,” Rev Mitchell told The Mayo News.
Reverend Mitchell said that while Archbishop Neary will not be able to celebrate the liturgies in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tuam, he intends to do so in the chapel in his home. He added that only a small number of serving priests in the Archdiocese have been forced to cocoon.
All Masses with congregations in the Archdiocese of Tuam have been cancelled since March 14, with some parishes live streaming Masses on webcams for parishioners to watch on the internet. Funerals Masses are continuing, but only ten members of the deceased person’s family are permitted to attend in accordance with the Government’s guidelines.
While saying that priests are happy to oblige with government guidelines during this crisis, Rev Mitchell admitted that the current restrictions means that priests are unable to carry out their normal ministry.
“It is completely counterintuitive to try to minister without the people. We are not in a position to go about our normal business. Priests have to stay at home except when they are needed, and that is the reality of the restrictions. But everyone is in the same boat.”
A link to webcam in the Tuam Archdiocese is available on the Archdiocese website, www.tuamdiocese.org, while a livestream from St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina is available on www.ballinaparish.org, where Mass times are also listed.