DGKK News :: New Horizon

The diocesan office is pleased to attach a Spring issue of DGKK News, our electronic newsletter which is operating as a substitute for New Horizon during these Covid times.
It includes the text of Trócaire’s Lenten Mass talk on page 6, which might be useful for Masses on 14 March, the day of the Trócaire collection.
The e-newsletter is available online at    March-2021.DGKK.pdf

Pastoral Message from the Bishops of the Six Dioceses of the Tuam Province

Dear Parishioners, brother Priests and Deacons, Religious and Friends,

Covid-19: A Year On

This week we mark the first anniversary of the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland. As we consider how this has touched our parish communities, particularly given the tragic loss of so many lives, we wish to share some thoughts with you, the people of the six Dioceses of the Tuam Province.

Further to Climb

Many of us will be familiar with the experience of arriving at what we thought was the top of a mountain only to discover that there is still further to climb. Sometimes the last bit can be the hardest of all. We understand the experience of disappointment and frustration that many people feel, at the news of an indefinite extension of lockdown. We are delighted, however, that children have the opportunity to return to school and we wish them and their teachers every blessing.
Until we are all “OK”
All of us appreciate the efforts and the sacrifices of those in our community who provide essential services. For many people, however, the continued high level of restriction poses practical and emotional challenges. We want to say very clearly that, in the Christian vision of things, every person is essential and no person is more important or necessary than any other. When we pray the Stations of the Cross, we celebrate people like Veronica, who wiped the face of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene who shared with Him the burden of the cross. None of us can say “I’m ok” until we are all “ok”.

Serving the Common Good and Supporting Restrictions

As Church leaders, we have consistently supported the public health restrictions on the grounds that they serve the common good. The state has a particular responsibility for the common good and, on that basis, the Church teaches that Catholics must obey the law unless it is manifestly unjust or immoral. That does not mean that we cannot or should not speak out when we believe that something seems unfair or could be done better. We have consistently made representations, not only for the timely reopening of the public pastoral life of the Church, but also for better protection for elderly residents in nursing homes, for equity in the delivery of critical care in our hospitals and for a fair distribution of vaccines both in our own society and in the wider world.

Difficulties with “COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead”

We recognise the need for prudence and caution at the present time, in the light of the terrible loss of life in January and February, and we accept absolutely that now is not the time for a major reopening of society. We have carefully considered the five stage plan “COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead”, published by the Government last week.

There are two things in this plan which we find very difficult to support.

One of those is the fact that at level 5, all funerals are still limited to 10 people. We believe that a modest increase to 25 would, without compromising safety, bring much consolation to grieving families.
Our second concern is that public worship is still excluded even at level 3. This would suggest that we may not have the opportunity to celebrate Mass together for months to come. It ignores the important contribution of communal worship to the mental and spiritual well-being of people of faith. The fundamental importance of Holy Week and Easter for all Christians, makes the prohibition of public worship particularly painful. While, as Christians, we are obliged to obey these regulations, we believe that it is our responsibility as Church leaders to make the case for change. We will continue to make fair and reasonable representation and we encourage you to do likewise.

Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation

In so far as the Government plan currently offers no clarity about when we might expect to return to public Sacramental life, we find it difficult to have any confidence that the Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation can be celebrated before the end of the present school year. As of now, we have decided to defer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the 2021 class until the Autumn, and we encourage our parishes to consider doing the same in relation to First Holy Communion. Should the circumstances change for the better, this decision can be revisited in each Diocese. In the meantime, we encourage young people and their parents to continue with their preparation. We have provided online resources to support what is being done through the Religious Education programme with the teachers in the schools.

Continuing Pastoral and Sacramental Care

Bearing all of the foregoing in mind, it is also important for us to do as much as we can within the current restrictions to provide pastoral and sacramental care to our parishioners. Experience teaches us that with suitable precautions, the individual celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is possible, as is the sacramental care of the sick. These, together with various other pastoral initiatives, can supplement the various on-line outreaches that have proved so helpful and successful.

Towards Easter 2021

God’s love for us is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who shared our human condition, with all its joys and sorrows. As his disciples today, we can have confidence in his promise to be with us always, even to the end of time. During this season of Lent, He walks the way of the cross with us and we journey in hope towards the joy of sharing in his Resurrection which, one way or another, we will celebrate together at Easter.

Sincerely in Christ,

+ Michael Neary (Archbishop of Tuam)

+ Brendan Kelly (Bishop of Galway)

+ John Fleming (Bishop of Killala)

+ Kevin Doran (Bishop of Elphin)

+ Michael Duignan (Bishop of Clonfert)

+ Paul Dempsey (Bishop of Achonry)

 

A FAMILY OF FAMILIES

With Christmas only a few days away and a Covid19 Vaccine now finally on the horizon, for the first time in a long time we have reason for genuine hope. 2020 has been a long year, a year which has challenged us all in different ways and a year we will be delighted to see the back of. Although still some way off the dawn of a new Covid-free era is beginning to stir.
At a parish level the virus has been deeply disruptive. From early March we have been unable to gather together as a full family of faith and for months on end have been unable to gather at all. Being unable to receive Holy Communion has been particularly difficult for many. Baptisms, First Communions, Weddings have all had to be postponed or rescheduled while simple things like school visits and First Friday calls have had to be suspended. We have missed our altar servers and full choirs.
Every aspect of our lives has been affected and yet we have been willingly prepared to surrender so much of our own freedom, not because of Government regulations but rather because of our commitment to work together for the common good of all. We stayed at home so that others might be safe, we limited our social interaction so that people who may be vulnerable because of age or underlying health conditions had a better chance of avoiding the virus, we washed our hands, wore our masks, kept our distance so that we would not – unknowingly to ourselves and to others, be carriers of the virus. It hasn’t been easy, but it was never so much about ourselves as it was for others.
It’s important to keep that sense of the common good in mind as we now prepare for Christmas. What we do, or do not do, has an effect on others. Throughout this period we are not being ‘deprived’ of Mass – numbers are limited in our churches so that all might be safe. We would prefer to be able to attend Mass, we would dearly love to attend Christmas Mass and to receive Holy Communion, but we are prepared to surrender our preference so that no one in placed in unnecessary danger.
When we gather for Christmas Mass this year, be it in Shrule or Glencorrib Church or on the Parish Radio or Parish Facebook page we do so for each other and in solidarity with each other. We do so as Parish; as a family of families stretching from Ballycurrin to Brackloon, from Rostaff to Gurteen. We gather as one. As each family lights its candle in its own home a light will spread across our parish and beyond; the light of faith, the light of hope, the light of Christ. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” God Bless you all.