Message from Bishop Brendan Kelly regarding face coverings in Church and other issues related to the Covid-19 emergency

Bishop Brendan Kelly has issued this message regarding face coverings in Church and other issues related to the Covid-19 emergency:
‘The agreed press statement at the bottom of this email [see below], strongly recommending the wearing of face coverings in Churches at ‘services of worship’, was issued by the leaders of the four main Churches in Ireland today. I am forwarding it to you for information.
In keeping with the strong recommendations in this statement, it is now the Diocesan policy of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora that from Sunday August 30, we are formally recommending and strongly encouraging the wearing of face coverings at all masses and liturgical celebrations in our churches until further notice, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing between members of the congregation, and four metres physical distancing between the celebrant and the front row of the congregation.
It would not be appropriate for the celebrant or the minister of the Word to wear face coverings while ministering in the sanctuary, but they should at all times continue to maintain at least 2 metres physical distancing from one another.
Some people, for good reasons, are exempted from the wearing of face coverings, even in contexts where it is normally mandatory. Those same reasons apply when people come to Mass and should, of course, be respected.’
Bishop Brendan also wrote: ‘On a separate point, the situation regarding religious services in places of worship (including funerals) remains unchanged (i.e. pods of up to 50 with social distancing etc., with the exception of counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare where the number is 25 at present). However, the maximum number permitted at an outdoor burial is 15, in line with the Government statement of 18 August.
It has been a difficult and challenging time for all people in our country, and not least for parishes. We have been blessed particularly in the many volunteers who have come forward and are doing immense work to ensure the safety and protection of all people who come to church.’
Here is the statement issued by the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland:
‘At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation etc.
It, however, remains our responsibility to ensure that our services of worship are safe places for all who join with us. It has become increasingly clear that the wearing of face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing etc., is likely to reduce the spread of coronavirus, thus helping to protect others. Their use is therefore one way in which we can evidence protection for the most vulnerable, support for our health workers, and practical love for our neighbours.
Following further recent consultations with public health authorities, we join with Christian church leaders all over this island in formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing, from Sunday 30 August 2020, and earlier if practicable.
We understand that some people are exempted from the wearing of face coverings, as outlined in the two jurisdictions.
We also recognise that whilst it may not be appropriate for those who are leading from the front during worship, including preaching, to wear face coverings, they should at all times continue to maintain at least 2 metre physical distancing from one another, and 4 metre physical distancing from the front row of the congregation.’
The Most Revd Eamon Martin
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Most Revd John McDowell
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The Rt Revd Dr David Bruce
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Revd Dr Tom McKnight
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

Update on Covid-19 procedures

In the government Covid-19 announcement yesterday (18th August 2020), indoor arrangements for Churches were left unchanged because measures are in place to attend safely. See
In relation to Doorus Church, if funerals occur, it is as well to mention now, when no funerals are pending, so that it will be clear it is not personal to anybody, that because the 2 meter distancing rule applies (except in the case of people who live in the same household), the capacity for a funeral will be considerably less than the 50 people. Therefore, families will have to choose between having a smaller number in attendance in Doorus Church or having the funeral in one of the other Churches of the parish. Please be sensitive to the fact that the parish is obliged to follow the government restrictions, in the interest of public health, and does not have discretion to make exceptions.

Note for stewarding volunteers

Thank you to all our stewarding volunteers for the work you are doing in organising the seating, physical distancing, and putting the congregation at ease in the Churches at this time. At this stage, it could be good to review the guidelines in the diocesan guidance document, as seen here, and the video. Please note that stewards should not assist people in sanitising hands, as you must keep a 2 meter distance from each person.

Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, 15th August 2020

The usual obligation for Holy Days is suspended this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Masses will be celebrated with the current restrictions on numbers as follows:
Friday 14th August: Vigil Mass at the Grotto at Ballinderreen Church at 7pm. No Mass in Kinvara that evening. (See details below.)
Saturday 15th August: Mass at 12 noon in St Colman’s Church, Kinvara. The evening Vigil Masses on Saturday at 7pm in St Joseph’s and 8.15pm in Ballinderreen are for Sunday, i.e., not the Assumption.
Ballinderreen Grotto Mass (7pm Friday): As the Mass will take place outdoors, the capacity will be 200 people, observing 2m distancing, except for members of the same household who can sit/stand together. Please follow the indications of the stewards, and, if more than 200 people were to come, please be understanding that no more can be admitted to the Church grounds. If the weather is inclement, the following would happen:
1. If there is drizzle or light rain, Mass will continue outside, and the elderly and those who wish can sit in the Church, up to a maximum of 50 people.
2. If the rain is heavier, Mass will move into the Church, with a capacity of 50 people, and others can participate sitting in cars via the outside speaker or Facebook stream.

Confirmation of Northampton N.S. Graduates

Congratulations to the eleven former pupils of Scoil Bhríghde Naofa, Northampton, who received the Sacrament of Confirmation in St Colman’s Church, Kinvara on 8th August 2020. They are pictured here after the ceremony with Mr Shane McDonagh, Principal of Northampton N.S. and Fr Hugh Clifford, celebrant.

Note about Tuesday, 4th August 2020

Please note that there will no Mass in Ballinderreen Church on Tuesday evening (4th August 2020) as Fr Hugh will be at the Chrism Mass in Galway Cathedral. Those who would have attended this Mass, please spread to Wednesday or Saturday evening instead. Please keep the priests of the Diocese in your prayers as they gather with Bishop Brendan Kelly for the Chrism Mass which was postponed from Holy Thursday. (Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will continue as normal from 6pm to 7pm.)