Celebrating our faith during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Bishop of Kilmore Martin Hayes has released a statement in relation to the celebration of faith during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he also addresses the postponement of sacraments such as Holy Communion and Confirmation...
We are only too well aware of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and more recently of the new variants. Daily, we hear of the positive cases and sadly of more deaths. We remember all the people who have died due to coronavirus and we sympathise with their families, parish communities and friends.
In accord with the Irish Bishops Statement of March 9, 2021, I affirm the need for the necessary public health guidelines for the protection of health and life. The roll-out of vaccines does offer increased protection and hope for the future. The current Level Five public health restrictions in the ROI, which prohibit public worship, remain in place until April 5, 2021. As you may be aware the Irish Bishops are in constant dialogue with the Irish Government seeking the return of public worship when it is safe for everyone in our communities.
Of course, as long as restrictions on public worship are in place until April 5, 2021, it is difficult to plan for the sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation for our children. We must postpone them for the time being.
I appreciate that the children, the families, parish communities, their teachers and schools are preparing for First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation and that they would like to know when they will receive the sacraments this year. It will all depend upon the level of COVID-19, the importance of safety and the need for public health restrictions. The situation is very uncertain now.
The celebration of the sacraments did take place last year with smaller numbers when restrictions on public worship were lifted. In general, it was felt that those occasions with the smaller numbers were meaningful and conducive to the faith formation of all involved. I encourage the children, their families, parishes, their teachers, and schools to continue with the preparations for the celebration of sacraments during 2021.
Partnership of Home, School and Parish
In thanking the teachers in our schools for their input into the religious formation of our children in difficult circumstances - they have been operating only online until recently - we realise that they need time to prepare our children for the sacraments. The planned gradual reopening of schools is welcome as their participation in the faith formation of our children in partnership with home and parish is indispensable.
The circumstances in which we find ourselves are an opportunity for parishes to have a greater influence on the preparations of our children for the sacraments. This can take the form of simply praying for each of the children and their families, as well as involvement in parish initiatives to support families at these important stages on the faith journey of their children.
Over the past year, the celebration of our faith has centred on the home via online webcam/radio/social media links with local parish churches. This has afforded the opportunity for families to nurture their faith at home aided by resources available at www.kilmorediocese.ie
The cooperation between home, school and parish is fundamental to the nurturing in faith of our children. Additional resources recently produced by Veritas and based upon the 'Grow in Love' and 'I nGra De' Religious Education programmes will be made available after Easter to parishes, homes and schools.
Looking ahead in hope
Hopefully, during the year ahead, the reduction in the occurrence of COVID-19 and its variants will continue and the transmission of the virus in our communities will have ceased with the progress of the vaccination programme, so that it will then be possible for our children to receive the sacraments. The diocese of Kilmore will continue to liaise via parish clergy and pastoral personnel with families and schools in the interests of the faith formation of our children.
Finally, I would like to assure the children, the families, parish communities, their teachers, and schools that every effort will be made to ensure that the sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation will be celebrated at a time when it is safe for all who can be involved.