The Return to the Public Pastoral Life of the Church – May 2021
Thank God, and thanks to the efforts of so many people, we will be able to welcome parishioners back to the public celebration of Mass and the Sacraments on May 10th. Recent months have been very challenging for us all. As we prepare to gather again for the Eucharist and for the Sacraments and to resume the pastoral life of the Church, our two-fold objective is:
- to provide the opportunity for people to be strengthened, renewed and inspired by the mystery of God’s love for us
- to express that love in our own care for one another
The public celebration of all Sunday Masses and Weekday Masses resumes on Monday 10th May 2021 with up to 50 people or, where the size of the premises allows, pods of 50 people, with separate entrance and exit and no crossing between pods.
For the time being, it is recommended that Holy Communion should not be given under both species and should only be received on the hand.
The dispensation from the Sunday / Holyday obligation is extended for the time being. Those who can do so safely, are strongly encouraged to return to Mass, while those who are unable to come to Mass are reminded of the importance of marking Sunday by participating online.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation continues to be celebrated, taking into account the requirements of physical distance, hygiene and the integrity of the Sacrament. Confessionals will not be used for the time being.
Attendance at a funeral liturgy or burial is limited, by government, to 50 mourners.
Celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is limited, by government, to 50 guests.
The Sacrament of the Sick may be celebrated as dictated by pastoral need. Please contact your priest if a family member or neighbour requires the Sacrament of Anointing.
Routine house visits to the sick and elderly should resume in keeping with public health guidelines.
For the Sacrament of Baptism, please discuss with your parish priest. Numbers should be limited to 10 per family group.
For the moment, outdoor gatherings for worship are not permitted.
Face coverings should be worn in places of worship by all over the age of 13, unless there are medical reasons for not doing so.
First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation
- If First Confession has not already been celebrated, there is no reason why it cannot be celebrated simply and safely before the end of the school year. Parents should have an opportunity to be present.
- Before children celebrate their first Holy Communion, they must have the opportunity to return with their families to a regular participation at Mass over a period of time. For that reason, as well as for the avoidance of social gatherings associated with First Communion, Bishop Kevin confirms the previous recommendation that parishes would wait until the Autumn (after mid-August) for the celebration of First Communion.
- In considering the arrangements for First Communion, priority should be given to children who were scheduled to celebrate this Sacrament in 2020 and who may not have been able to do so. These celebrations could take place in the final two weeks of the school term i.e., after June 15th
- The dates for Confirmation beginning in mid-August have been agreed between parishes and the Diocesan Office. We encourage young people to prepare for Confirmation by regular participation at Mass in their parish community
Covid-19 is still with us. Remember the basic steps we can all take personally to reduce the spread of the virus – washing our hands regularly, keeping our physical distance, reducing our social contacts, practicing good respiratory hygiene.
Wishing you every blessing.
4th May 2021