An Update on Reopening of Churches from 29th June

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

We joyfully anticipate the beginning of a new moment in the faith life and renewal of our parish. We long for the day when we can return to the Public Celebration of Mass and the Sacraments. We long for our coming together again as a community of faith, worshipping together in church, something we have all taken for granted in the past.

The medical advisors to the temporary government are proposing Monday June 29th as a possible date to open churches. The churches in the Archdiocese are different to each other in size and shape and can accommodate small, medium and large numbers in the congregation depending on their size and measurements. ‘one size fits all’ does not apply.

Before opening the churches there are ‘norms’ or rules and regulations that must be in place, to facilitate the health and safety of everyone who comes into the church building. To comply with the advice of government and the Irish Episcopal Conference the following norms apply:  

 

  • There must be a ‘Return to Church’ steering group in place to oversee and monitor the reopening process.  We have that in place.

  • We are recruiting a team of stewards to train and to whom we will assign specific responsibilities.

  • We are recruiting a team of volunteer church cleaners.

  • We have identified that the optimum number who may be present in the church for each celebration is at present 28 people, based on the distance spacing of 2 metres. This figure includes the Celebrant, Sacristan, Computer team, Minister(s) of Word and Eucharist and stewards and cleaners. This may reduce the number in the congregation to approx. 15 people. Based on these figures we may have to wait a bit longer until the norms change before we can open the church.

  • We have marked out the seating to promote physical distancing supported by appropriate signage.

  • The Archbishop has dispensed with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and allows for people to attend instead on a weekday if possible. This again presents a great challenge in relation to the size of the church and will most likely not accommodate the numbers who wish to attend on any given day.

  • We need to have a policy to follow if on any day more than the maximum number come to the church to attend Mass e.g. Pre-booking a place for the Mass one wants to attend.

  • We are required to lay down ground markings outside the entrance(s) to the church and markings inside the church indicating the direction to be followed when entering and exiting the church and for receiving Holy Communion.

  • There may be no toilet facilities as repeated sanitising is required every time it is used as recommended by the HSE

  • We need to provide Ministers of the Eucharist to safely bring Holy Communion to the sick and those who, because they are vulnerable cannot attend Mass in the Church.

We have advised the Archbishop of all the above. We suggested that it is not practical for us to open the church for Mass on 29th. June as we could only accommodate 15 people, due to the restrictions of the 2 metre distancing that is required. Larger churches will be opening on 29th. June and will be restricted to allowing a maximum of 50 people which is inclusive of staff.

Please note:

St. Mochta’s Church will not be opening on June 29th.
The church will open for private prayer on Monday July 6th.
Details will be announced next weekend.
Mass on the webcam will still be celebrated Monday to Friday at 10am
And on Saturdays at 6pm and Sundays at 10.30am

This is an exceedingly difficult time for everyone, a time when we need to be even more vigilant as we put ourselves back into public life. We ask for your patience while we wait for the necessary conditions to make it possible to open for Mass again, making the safety and welfare of everyone a priority.

I ask for your support and prayers during this time.

Stay safe, keep well and God Bless you

Fr. Paul