By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 March, 2020
The Catholic Primate of All Ireland has backed an initiative which will see church bells rung on St Patrick’s Day as an expression of social solidarity and encouragement amidst the Covid19 crisis.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said he was “delighted” to support Bishop Phonsie Cullinan’s idea of ringing church bells as a call to prayer and social solidarity.
This weekend, Bishop Cullinan issued a statement announcing his intention to ring the bells of the Cathedral in Waterford and have them rung in parish churches across the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore on Tuesday.
“To celebrate our national patron, bells in the cathedral in Waterford and across the diocese in parish churches will be rung at 11am this St Patrick’s Day on 17 March,” he announced.
Noting that while Mass continues to be celebrated but without the congregation being physically present due to the Covid19 crisis, Dr Cullinan said ringing church bells is a call to prayer – wherever people are – “and a reminder of the faith that has sustained the people of our island throughout the centuries”.
“The bell ringing is also an expression of social solidarity, an encouragement to care for one other, and for all of us to be inspired and remain hopeful at the difficult time.”
The Bishop of Waterford & Lismore called for prayers for all those affected by the Covd19 Coronavirus and for those working at the frontline.
He said he had invited other bishops to have church bells rung across their dioceses on the national feast day.
Separately, Archbishop Martin has announced that he will consecrate Ireland and her people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for protection from Coronavirus at noon, after the Angelus, on 25 March, the Feast of Annunciation.
The Archbishop has invited priests, bishops and the faithful to join him in this act of consecration.
On Sunday, Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory said in his homily during Mass broadcast on KCLR Radio that the COVID19 global pandemic is a source of worry, anxiety and fear for everyone.
“This is no longer a story where – motionless – we watch towns and cities in a distant country on our television screens. The severity of the situation calls us to be with each other in new and different ways rather than being entrapped by our usual ways of thinking and behaving.”
Bishop Farrell said the relentless spread of the Coronavirus called all to extend radically their frame of reference from the individual to a response centred on the common good.
“Modifying our behaviour and respecting the measures put in place can save lives. Know that our lives are in one another’s hands,” he said.
He added that these days and weeks are “a time for us to be in prayerful solidarity with each other. Turn to Lord in prayer. Our strength to take the necessary steps to fight this deadly virus will come from prayer, as well as from the support of our sisters and brothers.”
Referring to the many events that have been cancelled because of the Coronavirus, Dr Farrell stressed that faith, love, and especially hope, are not among the things cancelled.
“The challenge posed by this aggressive virus will require the deepest outpourings of faith, hope and love, and the most rigorous exercises of justice, prudence, resilience, self-control and courage.”
He added, “We cannot lose hope at this unprecedented time in our history. God’s hope is in us, not just our hope in God. Genuine hope will keep us above the water as we face a range of difficult decisions and challenges.”
He appealed to people, “Don’t lend credence to lies or rumours, or give in to panic. These do not come from God.”
In Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy urged people to “take responsibility” and play their part in the efforts to combat the virus.
Speaking at the end of Mass on Sunday via webcam in St John’s Cathedral in Limerick, Bishop Leahy appealed to “young adults in particular to do their part” in changing their social habits so as to meet the “unprecedented challenge”.
“Social distancing is vital,” he stressed.
Referring to the experience of Wuhan in China, the bishop said closing down for a matter of weeks all non-essential services had won the battle for them against the Coronavirus.
Dr Leahy said that if Ireland moves to a widespread work closure, except for vital services, supports would be needed for businesses and staff.
He also appealed to people not to attend funerals unless they are immediate relatives or particularly close friends. Doing otherwise would, he said, be “reckless”.
In Rome on Sunday Pope Francis prayed at the beginning of his live-streamed mass for all those still working – the police, pharmacists, cashiers and those stocking the shelves of grocery stores, bus drivers, truck drivers … “all those who help daily life go on amid the lockdown”.
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv