In recent weeks Bishop Fintan Gavin has authorised parishes to re-open Churches for personal prayer provided that diocesan safety guidelines are strictly adhered to. On Wednesday night, in a historic first, the Parish Assembly met in a virtual online meeting to discuss how we as a community could begin to make our Churches available for prayer whilst ensuring everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

The Assembly was very conscious of the government guidance that those who are ‘cocooning’ and self-isolating should leave home only for exercise and would hope that parishioners would not be tempted to visit the Church, as much as they would love to, until such time that they are advised that they can mix more freely and visit other homes and centres.  The Assembly was also mindful of the fact that many parishioners would welcome an opportunity to visit the Church to say a prayer or to light a candle in these anxious and uncertain times.  After careful consideration the Assembly decided that each of our Churches would be opened on a phased and gradual basis. 

For the first two weeks, beginning on Tuesday 19th May 2020, our Churches will be open for personal prayer at the following times:

Passage West Church & Ringaskiddy Oratory                                   

Tuesday and Thursday                  11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Sunday:                                       3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Monkstown Church and Shanbally Church

Tuesday and Thursday                  3:00  to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday:                                       3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

This arrangement will be reviewed at the end of the initial two weeks.

During this initial period stewards will be present in the Church to help people understand and follow new Church protocols such as sanitising their hands on entering and leaving the Church, using the designated entrance and exit, maintaining a physical distance of two metres and only lighting shrine candles from a candle that is already lighting.  We ask people to be guided by the stewards so that we can all get used of adhering to best practice and ensuring a safe environment for everyone who wishes to worship in our Church. Church surfaces will be sanitised at the end of each prayer period and sanitising wipes will be also available at the entrance porch for those who wish to use them.

The Parish Assembly would like to thank all those who have volunteered to act as stewards in this initial period as we become accustomed to doing things in a new way. The changes that we are asking people to take on board serve one purpose, namely to keep everyone safe.  We are also grateful to all those who have offered to help in cleaning and sanitising the Churches as the need arises in the coming weeks and months.

The government roadmap for the easing of restrictions does not envisage any gatherings in Church until 20th July 2020 at the earliest.  As restrictions are lifted we will continue to be guided by public health advice and will prioritise the safety of everyone in our praying community, especially those who are vulnerable in any way.  The Lord, who spend much of his ministry curing the sick and restoring people to health, would expect nothing less of us!