By Sarah Mac Donald - 07 July, 2020
Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin reopened for public worship on Sunday bringing in its first congregation for a public Eucharist in 16 weeks.
Over four months of lockdown, the service had been live-streamed every Sunday to an online congregation. The only people in the cathedral were Archbishop Michael Jackson, Dean Dermot Dunne, the Dean’s Vicar, Revd Abigail Sines, and sometimes a preacher.
Worshippers who took part in Sunday’s Eucharist sat in socially distanced chairs and hand sanitising units were placed at entrances and exits. Many of the congregation wore masks.
While there was no congregational singing, some members of the choir were relocated from their usual stalls and sang from the south transept where they were far from the congregation and at a safe distance from each other.
In his sermon, Archbishop Jackson paid tribute to the clergy of the cathedral for continuing services during lockdown and to those who had undertaken the preparations to reopen the cathedral for public worship.
He thanked the congregation for coming and expressed the hope that they found it a safe place to worship.
He also thanked “all who have worshipped with the cathedral from afar by electronic means, unseen by us and known to God”.
“Covid-19 has not gone away – we are now in the most open-ended phase of the relaxation of restrictions that we have seen yet. There is no doubt that dangers and difficulties remain; common sense, spiritual wisdom and personal responsibility will take us forward in this more difficult Phase of renewed, if slow, engagement with other human beings,” Archbishop Jackson said.
He reminded the congregation to remain careful, and urged them to “remember those who, almost overnight, became our neighbours in the time of the lockdown”.
Dr Jackson said the future ahead will look different and underlined, “we do not need to rush it, but we do need to plan and we do need to engage”.
“We have so much for which to be thankful. We have so many new opportunities. We have responded in this cathedral church to the needs for personal safety and social distancing.”
The Church of Ireland Primate said those on the Front Line should never be forgotten nor should those who died “painfully and horribly” from Covid-19 or those who mourn them and those who mourn others who have died in these slow months.
Drawing from Sunday’s readings, he said “Many have become heavy laden to the point of near impossibility to endure in these months past – slowly, cumulatively – and they have continued to give graciously. They are people who have carried, and still carry, our needs as their burden.”
Sunday’s service concluded with prayers for Dr Emer Feely, wife of Dr Tony Holohan, as well as for all who had lost loved ones during the pandemic.
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv