A Cork priest revealed his devastation at not being able to perform his friends’ funeral Masses during a time when families need him most.
Covid-19 restrictions forced Passage West-based Fr Con Cronin, 72, indoors to cocoon. Up until that time the popular priest — who shot to fame after showcasing his dance moves with children celebrating their communion last year — had been conducting funerals while observing social distancing.Despite finding such experiences heartbreaking he was determined to comfort people in whatever way he still could.
Nonetheless, his hopes were dashed after the government advised anyone over 70 to cocoon until restrictions are lifted.
Sadly, during his time at home, Fr Cronin has lost a number of friends whose funeral Masses he desperately wanted to conduct.
He is determined to still be there for families and said he is available to take calls and provide comfort over the phone at any time.
“I knew a lot of people that have died whose funerals are taking place at the moment,” he said. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do any funerals since the rules came out.”
He said it has always been a privilege to have families share their grief with him.
“If you know the person, you carry their story to the end whether you did the ceremony or not,” said Fr Cronin. “You can still share their journey quite significantly.
“I want people to know that I am there for them. Everything is quiet here, so I have all the time in the world for a talk or a chat with those who are finding things difficult.”
He encouraged those in pain afterthe loss of loved ones to avoid stifling their emotions.
“Grief will wait until it’s addressed. That’s why expressing ourselves is so important.”
Fr Cronin, who conducted a number of funerals at the start of the pandemic, acknowledged how difficult it has been for priests to adapt to a new way of life.
He revealed how the devastating scenes at one funeral observing social distancing almost left him unable to talk.
Fr Cronin said that seeing family members sitting several feet apart at a funeral as they bid farewell to a loved one was almost more than he could bear. The image is one that is likely to stay with the priest for the rest of his life.
“They were all sitting in their chairs, crying alone,” he said. “Not being able to hold your mother’s hand while your father is being buried must be the most awful of experiences. The scene was one of hopeless grief. I could feel my voice going by the end.”
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