The Bishop of Limerick has admitted the pain and sacrifice that the public has to endure due to the Covid-19 impact on church services and sacraments, including now First Holy Communion and Confirmation, is difficult but stressed that “the Church is very much alive” in these times.
Bishop Brendan Leahy said that the postponement now of First Holy Communions and Confirmations, on top of the many other restrictions with funerals, weddings, baptisms and other services, is, sadly, unavoidable to help curtail the spread of the virus at this critical time.
“As we move towards the end of April, an increasing number of parents are understandably asking – ‘what’s going to happen to the First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies?’. Clearly because of where we are now in this critical stage of the battle against Covid-19, we can certainly say they are not going to happen in April or May,” said Bishop Leahy.
“Like all others, we must adhere to public authorities and what advice they give regarding large public gatherings. So, right now, it is impossible for us to re-schedule First Communion and Confirmation. And this is also true for baptisms and weddings.”
Bishop Leahy said he wished write to children preparing for the sacraments to encourage them following the postponement of these special moments in their young lives and spoke also of the support he has received from young people at this difficult time.
Commenting on a “lovely drawing of the Risen Jesus” he had received from eight-year-old Carmel, Bishop Leahy invited other children to send him letters, drawings and questions.
He also offered his thanks to diocesan advisors for sharing resources with children preparing for First Communion and Confirmation via the diocesan website and thanked all school principals and teachers for “continuing to keep such great contact with children, teaching on-line and providing resources”.
Bishop Leahy said he had recently read about a humorous cartoon of God talking to the “enemy”. The cartoon depicts the devil saying: ‘With Covid-19 I have closed your churches’, and God answering: ‘On the contrary, I have opened a church in each house’.
“This is something to really reflect on,” the bishop said. “Churches may be closed and the celebration of sacraments postponed but the Church is not closed. It is very much alive.
“I have heard of whole families coming together, in a way they haven’t for years, to participate in Mass being transmitted on television or online in one way or another. I have heard of people looking up online how to pray the Rosary as they want to do so with loved ones who are dying or in their homes or mortuaries alongside the deceased.
“Covid-19, strangely, is helping bring about a new recognition that the Church exists not only in church buildings or when we celebrate the sacraments, essential as these are in the overall, but it exists in every family. For
the Church as a whole, this could be one of the great learning outcomes from Covid-19,” said Bishop Leahy.
“So, Covid-19 is indeed an enemy,” he concluded. “It has closed your church and postponed celebration of the sacraments. But, paradoxically, it is also prompting you to recognise in a new way that God has opened a church in your house.”
Picture: The Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy. (Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference).