Thousands of families across the Diocese of Cork and Ross begin preparation to celebrate the postponed sacraments with their children and young people.
Following the updated plans from the government to lift many of the Covid-19 restrictions Bishop Fintan Gavin has issued updated guidance to parishes advising them that these ceremonies can be celebrated from Monday September 6th.
Given the numbers involved, many parishes will need to organise multiple ceremonies in consultation with local schools and parents.
Each parish will, over the coming days and weeks, engage with their own communities to plan the ceremonies.
The restrictions on attendance at Sunday and weekday Mass as well as other church ceremonies has also been updated by the government with churches able to have up to 50 percent of the capacity of the church building but still subject to health protection measures such as social distancing, face coverings, sanitising and ventilation.
Writing to parishes, Bishop Fintan acknowledges the role so many parishioners have played in these difficult times.
“Since churches re-opened for public worship in June 2020 we are indebted to the voluntary support of church stewards, those who clean and sanitise churches, parish ministries and church personnel who have worked so hard with yourselves to ensure that we could joyfully and safely gather for public worship. Many people have contacted me to say how grateful they are to yourselves and all those who work with you for this.”
We will continue to need this support so that our churches are safe for people to gather while we attend to the ongoing requirements of Reframing the Challenge in the following aspects, according to Bishop Fintan.
- Physical Distancing: Maintenance of physical distance between household groups in line with agreed capacity limits of 50%. Separated pods within the church are no longer required.
- Face Coverings: Continued application of current mask wearing requirements.
- Ventilation: Ventilation remains a core component of our Covid response in churches.
First Penance and First Holy Communion
Arrangements for the celebration of First Penance and First Holy Communion can be made in parishes to take place from Monday 6th September. In some parishes celebrations remain to take place from 2020 and these should be given priority.
In calculating the number of ceremonies it is important to include the child and parents as a minimum. Your church’s capacity will dictate whether or not you will be able to go beyond that.
Sacrament of Confirmation
Arrangements for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation within Mass can be made in parishes to take place from Monday 6th September. In some parishes celebrations remain to take place from 2020 and these should be given priority.
In calculating the number of ceremonies it is important to include the child, the parents and the sponsor as a minimum. Your church’s capacity will dictate whether or not you will be able to go beyond that
Due to the number of ceremonies to be celebrated in a short time frame, Bishop Fintan Gavin will delegate the local priests to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation in most of the parishes.
Pastoral Life of parishes
Bishop Fintan has also advised parishes that the government’s re-opening plan also means that attendance at a Funeral Mass now follows the same guideline as other Masses. At the moment, the current practice of receiving the remains of the deceased before the Funeral Mass will continue.
It is also a time to remobilise much of parish life, as we cautiously move out of restrictions, the bishop says.
“I encourage you to meet with your Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Committee, Safeguarding Representatives and other parish ministries to do this collaboratively. This is also a time to re-engage altar servers, young readers and other groups whose participation in parish life has been restricted during the pandemic. Specific guidance for church choirs will be made available in the coming weeks and we look forward to welcoming the return of their important role in our liturgies.