CHURCH OPENING TIMES FOR PRIVATE PRAYER ONLY Following decisions by the NI Executive and the statement (18 May 2020) from Bishop Treanor (see below), St Agnes’ Church will open from 10.30am until 2pm each day.
All visiting the Church are asked to follow the advice and directions provided at the entrance door from the Church car park. Certain sections of the Church are cordoned off and a one-way system is in operation. You will be able to visit the shrines to light candles and pray. We will have sanitiser and towels for your use entering and leaving and there are posters with some necessary advise in place, please read the information to keep you and others safe.
the Church toilets are unavailable.
Statement from Bishop Noel Treanor
(Diocese of Down and Connor)
Re-opening of Churches for Private Prayer
18 May 2020
Last week, the NI Executive outlined a five-step recovery plan with the gradual and phased easing of restrictions that had been placed upon movement and public gatherings in response to Covid-19. This phased recovery plan is welcomed by all as a sign of hope and progression in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tentative steps outlined by the NI Executive in this recovery plan have been possible only through the ongoing heroic and professional efforts of healthcare workers to safeguard public health and save lives. Once again, we are indebted and pay tribute to all those who are keeping our families and friends safe. Steps towards the easing of restrictions have only been possible because, as a society, we have taken the appropriate measures and carried the cross of isolation in the interests of the common good and public safety.
For the continuing good of all we must remain clear sighted and vigilant: the real and present threat of coronavirus remains, particularly for many vulnerable family and friends. The cautious steps towards recovery are steps towards a ‘new normality’. The pandemic has not passed. We need to be vigilant and maintain good hygienic practices and safely exercise personal maturity and responsibility as our freedoms of movement and social interaction return. It is necessary and incumbent upon all of us to maintain the social distancing measures that have allowed us to keep the infection rate down. In protecting those around us, we protect ourselves and those we love.
As part of step 1 of the recovery plan, the NI Executive have indicated today that some churches and places of worship may choose to open for the singular purpose of private individual prayer. As a Diocese, we warmly welcome this decision and I know it will bring tremendous consolation to all people of faith throughout the North of Ireland. Over the past few weeks, parishioners and clergy have voiced to me the sacrifice of not being able to gather within the sanctuary of the Church to offer personal prayer. It has been particularly difficult for families who continue to grieve the loss of loved ones. They desire to gain consolation in offering prayer to God as they remember their loved one before the altar of God.
To facilitate the opening of churches for private prayer, churches within the Diocese of Down and Connor, following a full risk assessment, will reopen for private prayer according to the capacity of each parish to do so safely and in accordance with public health guidance and best practice.
The Diocese takes seriously its duty of care towards parishioners, employees and clergy. It has therefore issued specific guidance to parishes of the measures required to be put in place before any church may be opened. Each Church will open only when it is safe to do so and this may vary from place to place. The support and patience of parishioners while these measures are put in place is greatly appreciated.
All visitors to churches must strictly observe the social distancing regulations and good hygienic practices outlined at Church entrances. In the exercise of personal responsibility, anyone who is unwell or exhibits symptoms of Covid-19 should stay remain at home. Those who are at increased risk from the virus, and/or have been advised to shield themselves, should also remain at home. There is no obligation to visit Church and Mass will continue to be streamed privately via social media without a congregation present.
In the interest of public health and safety, during this first phase of reopening of churches, visits are for individual, personal prayer and private devotions only. Organised gatherings for prayer or devotions are not permitted at this stage and the public celebration of Mass and the other sacraments remain suspended. These directives will be kept under regular review.
FIRST COMMUNICANTS We are thinking of the Year 4 boys and girls in our Parish who were due to receive their First Holy Communion on Saturday 16th May. Your special day will come when the present restrictions are lifted. For now, enjoy a big virtual hug from the Parish community, thank you for being so good and by saving lives by making this sacrifice.
Down and Connor Diocesan Triduum
Following on from the successful Diocesan Novena earlier this month, the Diocese of Down and Connor will close the month of May with a Triduum of Prayer to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. In the Christian tradition Pentecost is known as the Birthday of the Church. Over these three days, prayers will be offered for the Family (the Domestic Church), our local Parishes and Pastoral Communities (the Local Church), and for the mission of all Christians in the world (the Universal Church).
The Triduum will run from Friday 29th May until Sunday 31st May.
Bishop Noel Treanor warmly invites everyone to join with him as he leads the prayers on-line via the webcam (www.churchservices.tv/stpeterscathedral) from St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast.
Each evening will begin at 7.00 pm and will last approximately 15 minutes.
Intentions may be sent by email to email@example.com and they will be placed in front of the altar and included in the prayers each evening.
A booklet of the prayers being used in the Triduum can be requested using email address above.
Remember in Prayer…
Those whose anniversaries occur at this time: Michael Dobbin, Thomas Straney, Mary Keenan, Bernadette Devlin, John & Margaret Laverty
Ireland’s Big Issue magazine needs your help to stay alive
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MESSAGE FROM TROCAIRE
Every year Trócaire asks for your help during Lent to fund lifesaving programmes around the world.
This year, of course, it was not possible to return Trócaire boxes through schools or parishes in the
usual way. This is the worst possible timing coming just as the world’s poorest people need us most.
Therefore, Trócaire are appealing to you to return your Lenten donation. Simply count or estimate
what is in your box and donate in the following ways:
1. Online at www.trocaire.org
2. By phone: 1850 408 408 (ROI) or 0800 912 1200 (NI)
3. By post to Trócaire, Maynooth, Co. Kildare (ROI) or Trócaire, 10 King Street, Belfast, BT1 6AD (NI)
Thank you prayer of the faithful:
As we mark the feast of Pentecost at this time of the year; we celebrate the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit. We thank you God for the generosity of the Irish people to Trócaire. We also give thanks for
front line workers all over the world, including those in countries where Trócaire works, who are
working against the odds to control the corona virus. We pray for all those who have been impacted
by COVID-19 in Ireland and around the world. Lord hear us.