The courage, bravery and spirit of St Patrick is needed in Ireland to fight the coronavirus (Covid-19), according to the Bishop of Ossory who has dubbed it a “modern plague”.
In a homily delivered on St Patricks Day, Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory said despite enduring a “torrid time”, St Patrick did not give in to despair.
“As we read St Patrick’s ‘Confession’ we gain an insight into a man who was strong, courageous, deeply dedicated to Christ; a person not easily defeated or discouraged,” said Bishop Farrell in St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.
“In the long history of Ireland – and the world – our forebearers in the Faith have faced immense and seemingly overwhelming challenges down through the centuries, and yet they overcame enormous adversity.”
Bishop Farrell said that in the past, people in Ireland had to “overcome a nearly constant fear” of major outbreaks of TB, smallpox, or cholera or typhoid, which could often be lethal.
“As concern for the Coronavirus deepens day-by-day, we know that because of medical advances and good communication we are in a much stronger position to deal with what might be termed a modern plague, that is, the Coronavirus,” he said.
Dr Farrell said in the more recent past some celebrations of St Patrick have been reduced to “an opportunistic spring carnival”, adding that it should not “blind us to the deeper meaning and significance of what and whom we celebrate”.
“We celebrate a young man whose life drew sense from Christ, and who knew first-hand the consolation, hope, and strength that come from him.”
Although St Patrick’s celebrations have been “overshadowed by fears and concerns about the Covid-19 (coronavirus) epidemic”, he said, “the spirit of St Patrick is needed in our country today”.
“In these frightening days, the fear and concern are very understandable, but they must not be allowed to lead to a loss of hope, or of despair. The restrictive measures introduced by the Government and the Church will help to protect people, especially the most vulnerable. St Patrick endured a torrid time; he was isolated from his family and tested, but he didn’t give in to the spectre of despair. Patrick put his trust in God.”
Dr Farrell said: “In these extraordinary times, we pray earnestly and promise to work in harmony with the State agencies for an end to the pandemic.”
According to John Hopkins University in the US there have been more than 200,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 around the globe. More than 8,200 people have died. After China, Italy has had the most fatalities related to the virus at just over 2,500.
Yesterday the National Public Health Emergency Team of the Department of Health announced 69 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
Out of the new cases 48 are associated with the east of the country, 13 are associated with the south, 5 are associated with the north/west, and 3 are associated with the west.
There have been 2 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Ireland and as of yesterday (March 17) there was 292 confirmed cases.