By Sarah Mac Donald - 26 May, 2020
Popular composer and singer Fr Liam Lawton has appealed to people not to forget those who are cocooning and are not on social media.
Speaking to the Digital Parish, Fr Lawton, who is director of sacred music and a priest of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, spoke about his own experience of lockdown in the Covid-19 pandemic.
He told the Digital Parish that what he missed most was human contact.
“I miss not being able to see my family. I miss not being able to hug my mother and other people. I miss being physical – ie being able to shake hands at funerals. As Pope Francis put it so well: I miss tenderness!”
Fr Lawton said he felt that structure is very important while the lockdown continues and that it was important “not just to wander aimlessly into each day”.
In his parish in Carlow, he said they had structured the day to help people. “We have Mass every day at 10am. We then have Midday Angelus and the Rosary and then each night we round off the day with a Night Prayer. On a Wednesday night we have a Holy Hour with reflections and music.”
According to the Carlow-based musician, who has recorded over 16 albums to date, a number of which have been award-winning platinum sellers, it is “important to reach out to people who are isolated and cocooning” and remind them of the community that they are from.
He said that while social media is important, it was also important to reach out also to those who don’t use social media.
The popular priest-musician explained that his parish had been operating a food kitchen which had been serving 100 people a day but that due to the Coronavirus restrictions it had had to close.
“But people are still hungry and still have to try and make ends meet, so every week we offer them a bag of food which goes some way in helping. We have volunteers who pack the bags of food and then we have volunteers who distribute it.”
He said the churches in Kildare and Leighlin are open for private prayer and people can also collect a parish newsletter and bring it to a neighbour who may not get out or is not on social media, to let them know what is happening within the parish and keep them informed.
Last Sunday Fr Liam took part in a concert which allowed people to join in virtually and to sing, which he underlined, is beneficial for people’s mental health.
“We were totally taken back at the number of people who logged on [from] something like 30 plus countries. We had thousands and thousands of viewers,” Fr Liam explained.
“I think that people long just to be able to express themselves. I have had lots of emails from people who have been isolated in apartments and flats and houses.”
Elsewhere in his interview with the Digital Parish, Fr Liam said his one worry about lockdown and the church was that “some people have reverted to a clerical model of Church where they have seen Father doing everything on Facebook or the webcam. I think we need to bring our lay people into the picture and to focus on this also.”
“I also think we need to emphasise that Church does not necessarily pertain to a building but that we are all ‘Church’, no matter where we are. Jesus reminds us that ‘wherever two or three gather in my name, I am present’.”
For more interviews by the Digital Parish see: https://www.facebook.com/digitalparish/
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv