A welcome return
For four long months public health restrictions and our own concerns about safeguarding the well-being of parishioners have meant that it has not been possible for us to gather as a community together to celebrate Sunday Mass. Next weekend, 18th/19th July 2020, we hope to once more begin celebrating our Vigil Masses on Saturday evenings and our Sunday Morning Masses.
Restrictions of numbers at Mass
Whilst we are delighted to be able to gather to celebrate Mass together again we know that this will also bring its own challenges and difficulties. Social distancing requirements mean that the capacity of all our Churches will be severely curtailed. In Monkstown, Passage West and Shanbally there are approximately fifty designated spaces where people can sit whilst respecting the 2m physical distancing regulation. Couples, families and those living in the same house are welcome to sit together but, even taking this into account, we will still be able to accommodate only 75 to eighty people at any of our Masses. Where weather permits we will try to have additional seats available in the Church yard but, as you know well, we can’t always rely on our Irish summer!
How you can help?
During the Covid-19 crisis the Church has clearly said that there is no obligation or duty to participate in Mass. Yet there are many people who still want to come to Church to connect with the Lord, to have a moment of quiet prayer and reflection and to be nourished both in Word and Eucharist. It is very heartening to see people wanting to celebrate Mass. We want to do everything we can so that as many people as possible have that opportunity. Some people are able to join us for our Masses on weekdays and have been doing so over the past few weeks. If you are able to come during the week we ask that you continue to do so that those who can only able to join us at the weekend also have an opportunity. For the coming weeks our Wednesday Mass in Passage West will be at 7.30 p.m. to give people the option of an evening Mass during the week.
We know that asking people to come to Mass on a weekday rather than on Sunday will be difficult for many parishioners. It goes against the habit of a lifetime. We have all been brought up believing that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the day we gather in prayer and come together as a community. All that is still true! But in these unprecedented times, respecting public health guidelines and keeping people safe is and must be our first priority. So if you can join us for Mass during the week rather than on Sunday, please do so. You really would be helping us greatly to spread the demand and this would give an opportunity to those who can only come at the weekend. We have all made sacrifices for others these past months and this is one more small sacrifice we are now asking you to make to help others in our community.
Our live-stream Mass on Sundays will continue.
Many people remain understandably cautious about Covid-19 and may be anxious about the risk of indoor gatherings. Many have shared with us their decision not to return to Mass right now as a precaution and we support them in that decision. If anyone is concerned about their own underlying health or if you are living with or caring for someone who is vulnerable then we encourage you to take every precaution to stay safe. You are welcome to join us in prayer each Sunday morning at 11.00 a.m. when we will continue to live-stream Mass on our Facebook page – Harbour Parish Churches
Will Mass feel very different?
One of the encouraging comments that people have made about our weekday Masses in recent weeks is how familiar and comforting they feel. Yes, there are changes, particularly in how we come in and leave, in where we sit and in the distribution of Holy Communion, but once we are in our place the prayer of the Mass and our part in it is exactly as it has always been.
Key things to keep in mind each time you join us for Mass.
- Pay attention to and be guided by signage at entrance.
- Sanitise your hands at entrance and exit.
- Wait to be guided to your place by a steward.
- Spaces where people may sit are clearly marked with a green tick. People living in the same house may share a pew.
- Wait to be guided by stewards at Holy Communion and again when exiting the Church
- Maintain social distancing at all times both inside and outside the Church.
- While people are not currently obliged to wear masks or face-coverings in Church we encourage people to do so.
What other changes can I expect?
- The biggest change that people will experience is that of being separated from others due to physical distancing. In Church we are generally used of being close to each other which helps us to feel that we are all praying together. Being physically distant may feel strange for a while but we will still be as united as ever in our prayer.
- The Sign of Peace is suspended.
- You are asked to receive Holy Communion in the hand. If you wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue the priests will be happy to facilitate this after Mass.
- Ministers of the Eucharist will sanitise their hands before Holy Communion and wear masks whilst distributing Holy Communion.
- The collection basket will not be passed from person to person. You are asked to place your offering in the baskets that will be placed at the entrance and the exit.
- If you use a Mass Leaflet or a newsletter we ask you to please take them home with you.
An appeal for generosity.
The weekly collection at Masses is the primary means by which we meet the running costs of the parish such as light and heat, insurance, Church supplies and maintenance, etc. Over the past few months not celebrating Mass has meant that the parish has had little or no income whilst at the same time having to meet additional Covid-19 related costs like hand-sanitisers, signage and cleaning materials as well as our normal expenses. We realise that many parishioners’ own personal financial situations have been severely impacted upon by the shut-down but we ask you, where possible, to please be generous in supporting our parish over the coming weeks and months. Thank you for your continued generosity.
Baptism celebrations in our Parish.