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Clonmel church lights up for front-line staff

By Ann Marie Foley - 07 April, 2020

More than one thousand candles have been lit in Clonmel for front-line healthcare workers and for those affected by COVID-19.

Last Friday (3 April 2020), SS Peter and Paul’s Church, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, was “lit up” with candles for front-line workers and people doing essential work, including retail staff. At a special service, there were also prayers and petitions from the town and all around the world.

“We received over 500 requests for a candle to be lit by email, phone and messenger, and many of the prayers were read out in the service,” said Fr Michael Toomey.

While the church was empty because of COVID-19 restrictions, the service was broadcast live on Facebook, on Church Services TV and radio. The webcam facilities were set up in the church as part of a transition year student project in the parish (see cinews 04 March, 2020).

“We had a combined audience of over 5,000 views from all over the town, country, and the world including Spain, Australia, and Syria,” said Fr Toomey.

The candles were placed in the shape of a cross on the benches inside the church, with a number of other petition candles lit on the sanctuary and on the altar. Before the service, people were invited to send in requests to have a specific candle lit for their loved ones, and to pay their own tribute to so many on the front line serving their communities up and down the country.

Fr Michael Toomey, who led the prayer service, said: “I am very aware that for many, lighting a candle in the church gives great peace and comfort, and so while our church is currently closed for everyone’s health and safety, we are still able to light candles for people by doing something as simple as this.”

There were prayers and scripture readings during the service, and words, hymns and songs of inspiration, giving special mention to all in the healthcare professions, those in retail, pharmacies, banks and post offices, as well as those working in utilities, drivers, and volunteers all still working to help the country in its greatest need. Special mention was given to the community, especially to the many who have lost jobs and who are now volunteering.

“Just to see the wonderful community spirit in so many small ways has been so emotional, and just typical of the kind of people we are here in Clonmel and in Ireland. We should all be so very proud of what we are doing, together, by keeping apart,” said Fr Toomey.

Prayers and thoughts were also offered for those affected by COVID-19, and a moment’s silence was held for those who have died.

“Now we turn our attention to celebrating Holy Week with everyone through modern technology and I invite everyone to join me online in the coming days to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ,” said Fr Toomey.

Details of services are available on www.churchservices.tv/parishclonmelpeterpaul, on the parish Facebook page (SS. Peter & Paul’s Clonmel), and in the local papers.

The Mass in St Patrick’s Cemetery on Easter Sunday Morning at 10 a.m. will be celebrated by Fr Michael Toomey in the chapel, and it will also be broadcast online.

An increasing number of parishes, religious orders and diocese are broadcasting their services on Facebook and other social media and internet services as well as on TV and radio. As Easter week gets under way, this is especially true, and there are many resources to help people to celebrate and pray at home during this special week in the Catholic Church.

Knock Shrine runs a special light an online prayer candle service which is availed of by people from all over the world.

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