Our true strength is the capacity to “value every person” and “carry the weak” in facing the coronavirus, according to the Bishop of Ossory in a pastoral letter issued this weekend.
Bishop Dermot Farrell urged solidarity and appealed for people to support frontline workers.
He said: “We are learning about the fragility of our lives. We are learning about the depth of our resolve. We are learning about our profound community spirit and, in a real way, we are learning about how we need and depend on each other.
“We have come to realise that our true strength is our strength to carry the weak, and our true dignity is our capacity to value every person.”
Bishop Farrell stated that “solidarity and global action are absolutely crucial to bringing this pandemic under control”.
“We are seeing the selfless dedication and the immense work of those on the front line. Of course, these women and men not only do this in times of great trial, but in ordinary days as well.
He commended the work of nurses, doctors, paramedics, care staff, clergy, gardaí, fire personnel and “many more”.
For those who are willing to take action and volunteer their support in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Farrell said: “It is wonderful to hear of the great numbers of people willing to volunteer, to offer their time and talents to help others.
“Men and women asking what they can do for each other. It is this other and not the self which lies at the heart of our Christian faith.”
Bishop Farrell also spoke of the importance of prayer, saying: “Real prayer comes from the heart; real prayer comes from real life.
“So let us pray as we can. Pray in your own words, pray in the words of others, pray in the words of the Mass, pray in silence.
“As our country and our world is convulsed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we know that our lives spill over into others, for better or for worse, and we remain, in these times, united by prayer.”
Bishop Farrell encouraged people to email email@example.com text 085-8313100 any prayer intention.
“These, then, will be remembered when we come together to celebrate Mass on the radio each Sunday morning. A real coming together of our prayer,” he said.
The Diocese of Ossory has taken on board the updated recommendations made by Government in their efforts to contain the coronavirus announced on Friday. Clergy were included in an extensive list of workers deemed essential by Government published on Saturday and are permitted to continue their pastoral ministry in line with Department of Health regulations.
The Diocese of Ossory, as well as the other dioceses are implementing the new norms which require that all people over 70, or those who are particularly vulnerable, be shielded or “cocooned”. This applies immediately to priests and lay staff of parishes. These categories have been told to remain indoors at all times for the coming two weeks
churches are allowed to remain open in Ossory provided they can guarantee physical spacing of two metres between people, and a high level of public hygiene for those entering.
A message on the diocesan website states: “In the current situation, where most churches are not in a position to ensure that surfaces would be cleaned regularly, it is wiser and safer to close the church.” Webcam Masses will continue.
Regarding funerals he said the Government guidance up to this point remains the same, with very small numbers of family only in attendance and safe physical distancing of two metres both in the church and in the graveyard.