Bishop Fintan Gavin has issued the following guidance for the Diocese of Cork and Ross on return to Mass and public worship.
Following the government announcement on new public health measures The Path Ahead, public worship will resume from Monday 10th May. This is a very welcome announcement as we have found the last four months of not being able to gather with people for Eucharist in our parishes since St. Stephen’s Day very difficult.
All parish communities are deeply grateful to volunteer stewards and those who sanitised and maintained churches to a very high standard over the last year. In order for public worship to resume safely from Monday 10th May we will again be indebted to these volunteers and will need their help so that we will be ready for that date.
Mass with Pods of 50 people
Where the size of the church allows for a capacity of greater than 50 this may be permitted only where:
- social distancing guidelines are adhered to (members of the same household can sit/stand close together)
- the church can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section
- there is a minimum of 4 metres between sections
- each section having its own entrance/exit route
- there are separate arrangements for elements of the Mass involving close contact, for example the distribution of Holy Communion
- strictly no movement of people between sections before, during or after Mass
- the church is well-ventilated
- No gathering of people outside the church before and after Mass
From 10th May up to 50 mourners may attend a Funeral Mass while any related events, either before or after, should not take place.
- There is an increased risk of transmission of the virus where families and communities come together following the death of a loved one.
- Therefore, numbers at a Funeral Mass (and weddings) are capped at 50 regardless of the size of church.
- Notwithstanding the increase in numbers permitted, funerals are still considered private family events and arrangements should not be advertised in newspapers or on-line.
- Funeral services should continue to be live streamed to help reduce numbers attending.
From 10th May up to 50 people can attend the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage in a church.
Arrangements can be made for the Sacrament of Baptism to be celebrated from 10th May with those immediate family members present to include parents, siblings, sponsors and grandparents. We need to emphasise that caution is needed in relation to gatherings that might take place around baptisms as well.
Many people will wish to go to Confession as it may not have been possible for a long time. I ask that you continue to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation while taking account of all health measures.
Arrangements may be made for the Sacrament of First Confession to be celebrated in churches from 10th May in accordance with the requirements of public health measures.
This is not permitted in line with Government restrictions on organised outdoor gatherings.
First Holy Communion and Confirmation
Unfortunately it’s not possible to make arrangements for the celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation at this time and in order to avoid disappointment no dates should be proposed by parishes, not even provisionally.
Use of Churches for any other purposes/parochial activities/community meetings
This is not permitted in line with Government restrictions on organised indoor gatherings.