WELCOME BACK EVERYONE. I am very glad that we are now going to reopen our parish churches for public worship. It has been lonely saying mass to an empty church! I missed you all.
I want to mention a number of important things related to the reopening and then some news about the rescheduling of First Holy Communion and Confirmation.
First the date for reopening is the 29th June 2020. That means that the churches will be open to the public for mass from that day.
The first weekend masses will be Saturday 4th /Sunday 5th July and mass times will be the same as usual.
We do need to be aware that the corona virus has not gone away and so we need to be conscious of the need for social distancing and to adhere to the advice we have been hearing for months about hand washing and sanitising.
We realise that some will be nervous about coming back to church so it is a responsibility on everyone to be considerate of others when in church and to give each other space.
It will be obvious to everyone that because of the lockdown the parish’s source of income virtually disappeared for three months. My thanks to all those who in recent weeks have been sending in envelopes. I am very grateful for that. But in spite of the generosity of some there is still a huge shortfall. I believe though that there will be many who just haven’t had the opportunity to hand in envelopes and that we will catch up. We have started up the parish lottery again which will be a help. The first draw will be Wednesday the 1st July 2020.
When you return to church you will see a box inside the door or thereabouts into which envelopes should be put. We will also have a basket collection in the church, but we have to use some method which will not require anyone to touch the basket. We are considering a method that is common in other countries which is to have the bag on a long pole which can be passed along by a collector without the need for anyone else to touch it.
One of the conditions for reopening is that each church must be kept sanitised and the work of cleaning will have to be done by volunteer groups. If you can help in any way we want you to come forward and volunteer. It will not be possible for the parish to pay for professional cleaning, simply because we do not have sufficient income to pay for it.
A group of volunteers has already been formed for Hacketstown Church, thank you all for that. That needs to be done in each of the church areas.
When you come into your church you will see that we have cordoned off every second seat, we think that three to a seat for the present will be sufficient distance.
Families or members of the same household can of course sit together. We have left three seats open at the front of the church and families can use those. I am thinking of occasions when families come together for anniversary masses or a funeral, but it is not only such occasions the seats are there and should be used.
Closing off every second seat has considerably reduced the capacity in each Church. We have calculated the reduced capacity for each church as follows:
Hacketstown: 72 (including the Gallery)
That is a very reduced capacity so we suggest that some people might consider coming to mass on a weekday instead of a Sunday for the present. That would be a great help.
Depending on the numbers turning up some might choose to sit in their cars around the church and listen either to the outside speakers or on the radio in your car. I want to make sure that everyone is welcome and that no one feels that they are being turned away.
This has been a difficult time for everyone but thank God we have not had any reported cases of the virus in the parish.
I think the lockdown has changed everything and changed us as individuals. For some it has given them a chance to do things that they have been meaning to do but never get the time. For others it has meant a lonely isolation. Please God that is coming to an end.
It gave me time to get the webcam set up and working and also to get the radio working again both of which are wonderful aids for parish communication.