THE Bishop of Cork and Ross has welcomed the reopening of churches for public worship from next Monday but says there are yet no dates for Communion and Confirmation ceremonies in the diocese.
In guidance published on the diocesean website, Bishop Fintan Gavin said: “Following the government announcement on new public health measures The Path Ahead, public worship will resume from Monday 10th May.
"This is a very welcome announcement as we have found the last four months of not being able to gather with people for Eucharist in our parishes since St. Stephen’s Day very difficult.”
He added: “All parish communities are deeply grateful to volunteer stewards and those who sanitised and maintained churches to a very high standard over the last year. In order for public worship to resume safely from Monday 10th May, we will again be indebted to these volunteers and will need their help so that we will be ready for that date.”
He said that in some situations, larger congregations than 50 people will be allowed – including where the church can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section, or where each section has its own entrance or exit route.
In relation to funerals and weddings, he explained: “There is an increased risk of transmission of the virus where families and communities come together following the death of a loved one.
He advised that funeral services should continue to be live-streamed to help reduce numbers attending.
Baptisms are also allowed from May 10. Ballincollig parish has outlined that it will hold baptisms on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout May and June to tackle the backlog.
In relation to First Confessions, Bishop Gavin said that arrangements may be made for the Sacrament of First Confession to be celebrated in churches from May 10, in accordance with the requirements of public health measures.
But he said: “Unfortunately it’s not possible to make arrangements for the celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation at this time and in order to avoid disappointment no dates should be proposed by parishes, not even provisionally.”