Priests and parishioners across Ireland have expressed joy at being able to return to Mass after more than 100 days without the sacraments. Many parishes opened early on Monday to welcome back congregations, and other churches will do so this week and next.
Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said: “It’s a time to return with gratitude in our hearts for the gift that churches, sacraments and our local communities are for us.
“I am really grateful for all that has gone on in parishes over the past weeks getting ready,” he said.
“It is good news that we can resume public celebrations in our churches. Our first reaction to this positive development is one of delight. It is wonderful that we can be back in our churches celebrating the sacraments with one another,” Bishop Leahy said.
Speaking in Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “It is such a joy to gather physically for Mass”.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described the re-opening as a “great moment in Church life”.
In Derry, Bishop Donal McKeown welcomed the returning pointing out that “The opening of our church buildings is about letting people in – so that God’s grace can pour out again over our hurting community and over those who thirst to hear the prophetic voice that speaks of God’s audacious dream for us”.
Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said that “the past few months have been very challenging and stressful for us all.
“As priests we were ordained to celebrate the Sacraments with and for the People of God. These last few months have forced us to celebrate in empty churches, and many of our priests were also cocooning and unable to celebrate publicly.
“These months have been difficult for the faithful who have had to endure lockdown and lack of access to the sacraments,” he said.
In Kildare and Leighlin, Bishop Denis Nulty said: “This is a day deeply longed for by priests and people.
“Thank you to the super teams in every parish that have prepared so well for this day,” he said.