Following Tuesday’s government announcement on Reframing the Challenge, continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting of new public health measures all religious ceremonies can proceed with up to 50% of church capacity while still being subject to appropriate protective measures including social distancing between household groups, wearing of face coverings, sanitisation on entry and exit and good ventilation.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Following consultation with the Priests Council a Diocesan Policy for Funerals is under preparation.
Pastoral Life of the Parish
As we cautiously move to up to 50% of church capacity for public worship this is also a time to remobilise much of parish life. 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.
I thank you for your collaboration and generosity.
✠ Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork and Ross