By Ann Marie Foley - 09 April, 2020
Catholics are finding new ways of being Church, and priests are keeping close to them, Bishop Phonsie Cullinan has stated in his Pastoral Letter for Easter 2020.
“As Catholic Christians we are discovering new ways of being Church. People are praying more at home which has become, as at the beginning of Christianity, the ‘domestic Church’,” stated the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Diocese.
He added that priests are keeping close to their people through live streaming, webcam, Facebook, YouTube, e-mails, texts and even the “old fashioned” telephone.
He thanked priests who are looking after the sick and lonely and those who are mourning, but also the parishioners who are watching out for their priests.
“We are all in this together, but we are not alone,” he said.
He explained that Jesus, with his “relentless” love, embraces the Cross on Good Friday for everyone – some may have forgotten him, but he will not forget them. He added that this pandemic provides people with the chance to see more clearly.
“While our world has turned upside down – please don’t give up hope. God is with you. Pray. Pray to God for yourself, your family, for our hospitals and nursing homes. Implore God’s mercy on us all and on humanity so that He will prepare our hearts for his love,” he said.
He urged people to make acts of spiritual communion since they cannot receive physically, and to ask for a greater faith in Jesus. He said that this faith is then lived out in charity; in reaching out to others: family members, neighbours, the sick, the housebound, the homeless, “reaching out in any way we can, mindful of the prudent restrictions we must take.”
He pointed to Pope Francis’ meditation and Urbi et Orbi Blessing from St Peter’s and how the Pope urged people to take a long, hard look at the world and people’s selfishness, tolerance of injustice, deafness to the cry of the poor and the ailing planet. The current pandemic is an opportunity for the crowd to see where they have gone wrong and how they need to be converted and to change.
The bishop added that this crisis has literally forced us to stop and be still, and while there is much suffering, there are good effects like heroism and genuine neighbourliness.
There are great stresses on families, but many are spending more time with each other and discovering new ways of being family.
Bishop Cullinan can be joined for live broadcasts on YouTube for the Holy Week ceremonies from the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford. The Holy Week Mass times are on the Waterford and Lismore YouTube channel.
The diocese of Waterford and Lismore is situated in the south-east of Ireland and includes Waterford city and county as well as much of south Tipperary and a small portion of Co. Cork. There are a total of 45 parishes and 85 churches in the diocese. There are an estimated 44,000 Catholic households in this diocese, with a population of 153,206.