A Laois priest has outlined his plans for the reopening of the three churches in the parish of Stradbally for mass on Monday June 29.
Parish Priest of Stradbally Fr Ger Breen has released details of how he, and his fellow priest Fr Sean Kelly, will resume public worship in Stradbally, Timahoe and Vicarstown.
The current government restrictions on indoor gatherings by June 29 are 50 people so the parish is taking a number of steps to ensure that those who want to celebrate mass – can do so.
Essentially, there will be no change to the mass schedule that was in place before Covid-19 – this means weekday 10am masses in Stradbally will resume and the normal weekend schedule in Stradbally, Timahoe and Vicarstown will follow suit.
However, there will be the addition of two new masses. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30pm, there will be mass in Stradbally for two specific groups of people.
On Tuesdays, elderly and vulnerable people will be invited to attend while on Thursdays, those who are working during the weekday masses are invited.
Fr Breen explained: “The four-month lockdown has been difficult for us all. In terms of parish life, the priest of the parish have found it very strange and very difficult to celebrate Mass in churches without people.
“￼In the same vein, I have no doubt, that the people of the parish found it very strange and very difficult to be on able to attend Mass inside a church in the normal way by being with a priest￼￼￼ and assembled community.
“Thankfully, The worst seems to be over. It is truly wonderful to see a relaxing of restrictions and a gradual return to normality. At last, there now seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
“Because the Sunday obligation has been temporarily waved, attending weekday masses instead of Sunday mass is highly recommended.
“This will allow the number of people attending Mass to be spread out evenly over the whole week, as opposed to having big crowds on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
“We intend to re-open all three churches of the parish for public worship on the weekend of Saturday July 4 and Sunday July 5 at normal times.”
Fr Breen also outlined the new regulations that will be in place for those attending.
He said: “Please note that people who are nervous about being part of a public answering or people who have underlying health conditions are recommended to stay at home and continue to receive mass on radio or on Stradbally Noticeboard￼ Facebook page.
“The reopening of our church will involve rigorous compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions.
“While the parish will do its best implement is rules, people are requested to take personal responsibility the for minding themselves. In terms of the restrictions please do the following:
“Enter the church at the main entrance and exit by two side doors at the top of the church.
“Wear a facemask￼￼￼￼￼ (unless you suffer from asthma or have breathing problems).
“Use the hand sanitiser provided at the back of the church￼￼ and follow the instructions of the priests and Stewards. ￼
“The stewards will have a key role to play in the terms of regulating matters inside the church. In particular, they will advise on where to put your church offerings when you arrive at the front door, Where to sit and how to receive Holy Communion￼.”