Smiles abound at ‘wonderful’ return to Mass in NI

Smiles abound at ‘wonderful’ return to Mass in NI Mass returns to St Mary’s Church in Belfast city centre as restrictions in Northern Ireland are lifted. Photo: Hugh Russell

Churches opened their doors to the Faithful for a “wonderful” return to Mass in Northern Ireland on Friday March 26.

Fr Tim Bartlett, administrator of St Mary’s Church, Belfast, said that it was a privilege to hold public Mass for the first time since January.

“You could see the smiles on everybody as they were leaving,” he told The Irish News. “It was really, really wonderful to see.”

Fr Bartlett said that they had to close the doors to St Mary’s before Mass began as they had already reached full capacity.

The timing of the reopening means that Holy Week will be celebrated in person, though with restrictions on numbers due to social distancing measures.

Churches are organising booking services to enable people to ensure that those who wish to attend are able to do so safely.

Fr Bartlett said that the reopening was “cautious and careful”, acknowledging the “privilege of being the first to be allowed to express our religious freedom and come back to public worship”.

Meanwhile, churches in the south remain closed for Easter as restrictions on public worship continue.