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.
Fr Denis will celebrate Mass tomorrow, Sunday April 26th @ 12 pm. 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 12 pm.
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
Fr Denis will celebrate Mass tomorrow at 10.30 am in the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar to remember the intentions of all the people of Balla, Belcarra, Manulla, Clogher and Mayo Abbey and beyond. He will especially remember those who are suffering because of Covid-19 and all the wonderful frontline staff, volunteers and people working in essential services e.g. shops etc.
You can join in his ceremony at 10.30 am using the link here.