MESSAGE TO BALLA AND BELCARRA PARISHIONERS
I hope that you are keeping well. As you are aware public celebration of Mass and the Sacraments has been suspended since March. Thankfully from June 29th they can re-commence. The Parish Pastoral Council is actively planning to ensure that parishioners can once again attend Mass minimising the risk of infection. We have taken a number of decisions.
- Mass will be celebrated in Balla church on Monday at 10am, Friday 7.30pm, Saturday 8pm, and Sunday at 11am. A Webcam is being installed in Balla church. It is hoped to have it operational this weekend. These Masses can be viewed on http://churchtv.ie/balla.html
- Mass will not be celebrated in Belcarra initially. The Friday /Saturday Masses in Balla church will in reality be Belcarra Masses. Those who usually attend Belcarra on a Saturday are encouraged to attend in Balla on Friday or Saturday. It is intended that stewards, ushers, cleaners, Readers and Ministers of the Eucharist from the Belcarra area will ‘take care’ of that Mass.
- The Sunday morning Mass will involve stewards, ushers etc from the Balla church area. The people who normally attend on a Sunday are asked not to attend on Friday/ Saturday initially. They should attend on Sunday or Monday
- As social distancing will apply only 58 people can be accommodated in Balla (only 36 in Belcarra). Some who turn up may be disappointed when they don’t get in. We ask for your patience and understanding in this regard. We ask that people who attend on the first week would give others an opportunity to come to Mass on the second week and so on.
- Older people and those with underlying health issues are asked not to attend Mass for another while. It can be arranged that a family member will bring them Holy Communion. Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 or who within the last 14 days has been in the company of a person with the virus should not attend
- Initially I will be celebrating the Masses in Mayo Abbey on Thursday and Sunday. This is in order to offer support to Fr. Austin who is in the most vulnerable category at this time. Please God before too long he will be able to celebrate the Masses.
- Before our church can be reopened we have to have a lot of volunteers in place to help with stewarding and cleaning. I would like to thank those who have already volunteered. But more are needed. I am appealing to you to consider volunteering to act as a steward or to help with the cleaning.
Public Masses can only begin when we have enough volunteers. Many hands make light work so if you are under 70 and in good health I invite you to help us and ensure that Mass, Baptisms, First Communion Confirmation and Funerals can take place in the parish church. You can give your name and contact details to the members of the Pastoral Council. Pat McDonnell, Eamon O’Connor, Noel Cronin, Anne Marie Hyland, Mary Duffy, Walburg Ruane, Carmel Gallagher, Mary Jo Cannon, Mary McDonagh, Eileen Costello, John Bourke, Margaret Routledge, Antoinette Weekes, Mary O’Neill, Caroline Brennan, Anna Mae Bourke, Rachel Brennan,
Government and Diocesan authorities will only allow us to open when we can show that the necessary preparations have been carried out. There is a lot of work involved Again I ask you to be patient with us. It will take a while to get everything right but I promise that we will do our best. That will be made easier if you volunteer and support us. As our plans progress and bearing in mind any change to Government guidelines I will write to you again.
In the meantime please take care and may God bless you and your family.
Fr. Denis Carney P.P.
Phone: 094 9365025
STATEMENT RE CHURCH REOPENING
The date set by Government for the reopening of churches is June 29th. For churches to open a lot of work has to be done at local level which will necessitate a large number of volunteers. The parish Pastoral Council met during the week and after discussing what is involved in reopening made the following decisions in order to minimise the risk of infection to those attending ceremonies and all volunteers.
- A webcam will be installed in St Cronan’s church. This will enable older people and people with underlying health issues to watch Mass within the parish from their own homes. Family members will be encouraged to bring them Holy Communion.
- Mass will be celebrated in St Cronan’s on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mass will not be celebrated in St. Anne’s initially. St Cronan’s will facilitate larger numbers which will enable more people to attend and allow volunteers focus on one church for the time being and get it ‘right’. This will be a temporary measure.
- The Masses on Friday and Saturday evenings will cover the intentions booked for St. Anne’s and volunteers from the Belcarra/Clogher areas will be asked to take responsibility for these two days.
- Funerals, from the Belcarra area should they arise will take place in St Anne’s (unless the family want webcam)
- Fr Denis will be celebrating Mass in Mayo Abbey on Thursday evening and Sunday morning (10am). Facefield will not have Mass for the moment.
- Ceremonies will only commence if sufficient numbers of volunteers from all areas of the parish come forward. Those who are under 70 and have no underlying health issues are asked to volunteer NOW to act as stewards or to help with by giving your name to Fr Denis or any Pastoral Council member so that we can move on to the next stage of planning Thanks to those who have already done so.
- Confirmation/Communion ceremonies will be arranged when it is practical to do so and provided that we have sufficient volunteers to help with the ceremonies.
Archbishop of Tuam
PASTORAL LETTER FOR VOCATIONS SUNDAY
The Fourth Sunday of Easter, 3 May 2020
Recent weeks have been challenging for everyone. As Church we have been endeavouring to maintain and sustain our relationship with the Lord and with each other in ways which are in keeping with the health restrictions. Thanks to modern technology and social media the celebration of Mass is live-streamed to homes and people are in contact with neighbours and friends. Of course we miss the visits, the coming together whether for worship, work, sporting or social occasions. The busyness that controlled our lives is not as dominant now. We have more time to reflect and so to tune in to God and consider what God may be saying to us.
Interdependence and Responsibility
As the people of God graced with different gifts and entrusted with varied responsibilities, whether in marriage, single life, religious life or priesthood, the present situation affords an opportunity to pause and acknowledge our dependence on each other, our responsibility to support, encourage, challenge and pray for each other. Next Sunday we will celebrate a day of prayer for vocations. The different vocations which I mentioned do not compete with each other but rather collaborate with, affirm and challenge each other. I have stated on a previous occasion that the priest is called to be a facilitator, enabling married couples, single persons and those in religious life to interpret God’s call for them, encouraging and supporting them in answering their call.
Our View of Priesthood Today
Having focused on and encouraged the baptismal vocation on various occasions in the past, I would like to focus on priesthood today. Our view of the priest and our attitude towards priesthood will be influenced by priests we have known. It may be the priest who officiated at your wedding, the one who baptised your children, was with you as a supportive presence when your world was shattered by bad news. Recent years have been a difficult time for priests; all of us are affected by the scandals associated with some priests and bishops. Having apologised for these on numerous occasions in the past we must never become complacent but endeavour to maintain the highest standards of integrity in ministry as we continue to keep victims in our thoughts and prayers.
Called, Chosen, Inspired
As priests we are privileged to find ourselves at the heart of God’s human family. Why? Not because of our personality, gifts or insights, but rather because we have been chosen by God, called by Him and responded to that call. Therefore we represent and are a pointer to the God who is at the very heart of the human family. This is something which we treasure and will always respect and is something for which we will always be grateful. Speaking personally, while I appreciate and will always be grateful for the theological formation and years of study, I can say without hesitation that I have learned more from yourselves, the people of God with whom I work and pray. As priests we never cease to admire and be grateful for the inspiration, example, courage, patience and perseverance of our people, sometimes expressed in the most difficult situations. This is not to deny that at times we may be saddened and frustrated when our best efforts are misunderstood.
A Special Relationship
In our relationship with our people there is and must always be a special dimension. This has impinged on us in a very particular way at this time when visiting your families is restricted for health reasons. It is a source of great joy for us when you are happy and celebrate. Likewise we are saddened when you suffer. We endeavour, albeit at times very imperfectly, to be a reminder of the fact that the Lord continues to journey with you through the rough places and the greener pastures of life’s journey. The God in whom you believe and I believe and try to serve is a God who is welcoming, understanding, sympathetic, encouraging and wants the best for all of us.
Bringing Our People to God in the Eucharist
In every Mass, as priests, we bring our people before the Lord asking him to hear your cry for help, respond to your needs, enabling you to utilise your gifts for the good of others in transforming our world. At this time as we cope with Covid-19 people have experienced and expressed their appreciation of the generosity and support of the ministry of their priests albeit an “on-line” ministry.
Priesthood: Demanding Yet Rewarding
Priesthood is undoubtedly a demanding but also a very fulfilling life. Like any vocation it has its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. In our culture today people experience constant pressures – competitive climate, productivity in the workplace, educational demands, etc. With so many situations clamouring for our time and attention it is understandable that God’s call could easily lose its urgency and may even go unheard. I extend an invitation to young men to reflect on whether God may be calling them to follow him as a priest. I encourage all the People of God to pray that the Lord will inspire young men to hear and answer his call. Should someone known to you express interest in a vocation to the priesthood, I ask you to keep that person in your prayers and encourage him. The priest is one who radiates joy, serves others, is a man of prayer and plays a very significant role in building up God’s kingdom. Here in our Archdiocese we have been blessed by our priests who continue to respond generously and faithfully to the various challenges with which we all cope in a complex and rapidly changing culture.
An Enduring “Yes”
The priests I know and with whom I work are happy in their service of God and the people of God and each day we recomit ourselves to priesthood and to the service involved. When storms blow we need deep roots. On entering unchartered territory we need direction. What provides us with the strength to cope in these situations are a loivng family, a supportive community and the hope which our faith in Jesus Christ generates. With hope in our hearts we can face the future with courage.
Here in our Archdiocese of Tuam we look forward to the ordination of deacon Shane Costello and keep him and other studends in our prayers along with those who are studying for the permanent diaconate. The Ordination of a priest demonstrates how much faith is alive in a local Church. It illustrates the hope-filled courage which gives a young man the strength and joy to entrust himself to the Lord’s service, conscious that the faith of the people of God will support him.
This Sunday the Gospel sets before us the one priest who was without fault, the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He is the one who has called us, sustains and challenges us. I ask you to pray for us your priests, that we will draw ever closer to him and be a more faithful reminder of Jesus Christ to yourselves.
Fr Denis will celebrate Mass on Sunday May 3rd @ 10.30 am. Mass will be offered for the intentions of everyone in the parish of Balla, Belcarra, Clogher, Manulla and Mayo Abbey. Included in the Mass intentions will be all frontline staff and other people working to look after us all during this time.
Mass will be broadcast from Castlebar here at 10.30 am.
PASTORAL LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE FOR EASTER 2020
My brothers and sisters the “peace of Jesus Christ be with you”. All around us we see the hope, joy and new life of Spring as growth is taking place, trees beginning to bud forth and birds are singing and busy building their nests. Yet, in the midst of all this we endeavour to cope with the chilling challenge of Covid-19 and its consequences of death, disruption and disillusionment. We are living through a very traumatic time not just for Ireland but for the whole world. The results will be far-reaching in terms of physical, psychological, emotional health and the economic situation.
Not being able to visit with our family and friends at Easter time is a huge sacrifice. Thanks to modern technology and social media, however, we can still keep in touch with our loved ones and ensure that those who are isolated will be remembered and assured that we are thinking of them. This microscopic virus has effectively shut down the world in many respects, yet this challenge brings out the best in people and has awakened in us the need for connectivity and community. We witness the goodness, generosity, and gentleness being exercised in a very powerful, profound and personal way. This becomes abundantly evident in the way people responsibly accept the restrictions for the good of all. This has impinged on Church goers who cannot attend Mass, on families where funerals are restricted, on weddings and baptisms.
At times it is very difficult to see above and beyond the immediate situation, particularly if it is painful and life-threatening. As a people of hope we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These days our faith acknowledges that the execution of Jesus must have plunged so many of his disciples into despair. Nobody knew what was to come next or even if there would be a future. The hopes of the earliest disciples of Jesus seemed to run aground on Calvary and be buried with him in the Tomb. All of us who have lost loved ones will know the experience of the day after the burial when time seems to stand still. Similarly for the disciples on Holy Saturday; nobody knew how long the Saturday would last. Saturday, that in-between-day of doubt and despair when time stands still. That Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was about abandonment, disappointment and disillusionment. At times we feel that Holy Saturday is being re-presented now for us as we cope with the challenge of Covid-19 which leads us to a re-evaluation of what is important in our society.
The events of the Middle East 2000 years ago provide us with a perspective on our present situation. Social distancing, closed doors and fear stalk the streets and the thoroughfares of cities across our world. The followers of Jesus were forced to meet in fear behind locked doors. It was to this situation that Jesus came into their midst with the words “peace be with you”. This Easter we ponder the contradiction between death and risen life. We realise that our own faith is being tried and tested in the present situation. When the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples He carried the wounds of suffering, pain and death as He had been executed on the Friday. These continue to be the marks of the risen life. Prior to the onslaught of the coronavirus we prided ourselves on the progress which humanity had made in various areas. We boasted of our independence and control. Perhaps now, we are beginning to recognise our fragility and vulnerability, that we are not self-reliant and that we depend on God. And the God in whom we believe does not abandon us.
St. John reminds us that Jesus “breathed on them”, performing a kind of artificial respiration on his faltering followers. He said, “receive the Holy Spirit”. We remember and we pray for those on ventilators in I.C.U. units and those at the frontline who are ministering to them. We take responsibility in the present and actively pursue the means of containing the virus and finding a cure for it. At the same time, in hope, we look to a new future. However, the future will have to include and make provision for the concrete memories of the coronavirus with which we cope today.
Our faith in Christ’s rising from the dead enables us to embrace the present situation and at the same time opens us to new possibilities. Already we witness signs of hope in the goodness, generosity, altruism, sensitivity towards and support for others.
May the risen Christ bless us with the peace that will enable us to recognise that the Lord is journeying with us as we cope with this new challenge. I want to reassure you of my prayers and I ask for remembrance in yours. At this time my daily Masses are being celebrated for:
- The front-liners in the fight against Covid-19;
- For the success of medical researchers in the hopes that they will discover a lasting cure for Covid-19 and a vaccine to prevent it;
- For all infected by this virus;
- For the safety of all families and homes who have members in isolation;
- For all those dying alone that they will feel the presence of the Lord in their suffering;
- I will be remembering all families as they cope with the anxiety and fears that this virus has visited on them.
Archbishop of Tuam
This Holy Week is like no other. We will not be going to our local church to get blessed palms, have our feet washed, kiss the cross or watch the new Easter candle being lit. This year we will have to find ways to make the week holy at home.
One of the traditions of Holy Week for many families is to go to pray the Stations of the Cross during the week or on Good Friday. To help you pray the Stations of the Cross at home this year Kandle have put together a Slideshow/PowerPoint Presentation and this booklet which offers a simple reflection for each station to be prayed with your family.