A Catholic Bishop has appealed to various sporting organisations such as the GAA, the FAI and the IRFU to ask their members if they would volunteer to assist with stewarding at Christmas masses to ensure people comply with Covid-19 guidelines.
Bishop of Cloyne Dr William Crean issued the appeal as all 46 parishes in the diocese, which stretches from Youghal in East Cork to Ballyvourney in West Cork and includes most of North Cork, have reopened their churches for masses at which a minimum of 50 people can attend.
And because churches are deemed as controlled environments, some of the larger churches in the diocese such as St Colman's Cathedral in Cobh or the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Midleton can accommodate up to 150 massgoers once proper social distancing is maintained.
In a letter to all parishioners, Bishop Crean has appealed for all sporting organizations in the diocese to assist the 80 or so priests in active ministry by offering their members as stewards to ensure that massgoers abide by Covid-19 regulations and maintain good social distancing.
“Many people greatly missed attending mass, being deprived of receiving the Lord in Holy Communion and the opportunity to celebrate other sacraments. Many priests made great efforts to use the Internet to broadcast Mass. However, even this has been a poor substitute,” he said.
“Given the ongoing risk of transmission of the virus, parishes will need the help of stewards to ensure best practice in our gatherings for prayer this Christmas I appeal to those in organizations, with skill in ensuring safe gatherings of people, to offer your service to your parish community.”
Bishop Crean said that priests and parish pastoral councils across the diocese, which has a population of approximately 160,000, would be hugely appreciative to anyone who does offer to act as a steward so that people can gather safely for prayer at this difficult time.
He also acknowledged that the restrictions necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19 have impacted hugely on people psychologically, socially and financially with many people having to give up their work or work reduced hours on less income.
“This has forced people to cut their cloth to measure - the poor especially will need our help this Christmas,” said Bishop Crean, adding that parishes have also been affected financially as weekly collections were no longer possible when masses had to be cancelled during the Level 5 lockdown.
“In parishes where envelopes are used, many parishioners have been giving in their offerings to the parish office or a priest’s house. All such offerings, and those for priests, are deeply appreciated and hereby acknowledged as all the regular bills still need to be paid.”
“We do not know your personal circumstances, we ask you to please consider contributing by giving to the collection when masses re-open or by whatever method suits you - I thank you in anticipation of your response to support your parish at this critical time.”