By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 March, 2020
Schoolchildren in Clonmel who were due to make their confirmation at the weekend but saw the ceremony cancelled over the Coronavirus pandemic were delighted when the local priest held a special online Mass for them.
Eighty-seven children from SS Peter & Paul’s school and the Sisters of Charity NS in Clonmel were due to make their confirmation last Saturday in the local parish church.
According to school chaplain, Fr Michael Toomey, the children were “obviously very upset” when they learned that the Confirmation ceremony was not going ahead. But they still wanted to mark the day in some way.
He told CatholicIreland.net he decided to say Mass which was transmitted online for the students.
With the benefit of the ChurchServicesTV webcam in SS Peter & Paul’s church, and with some help from both schools and the local community, Fr Michael offered the Mass on Saturday for the intentions of all the Confirmation candidates and their families.
The Mass took place at the very time the children were to have been in the church to receive the sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Phonsie Cullinan of Waterford & Lismore.
During the online Mass, many of the readings and hymns that had been planned for the Confirmation ceremony were sung and Fr Michael encouraged everyone watching at home on their computers, laptops and Smart TVs to virtually join in.
Teachers and principals also took part online and their messages of support were read out to the students.
During the Mass, the name of each child who was to be confirmed was read out, and a candle was placed in front of the altar for each one. Red for the boys and blue for the girls. Afterwards, a message from Bishop Cullinan was also read out to all of those he was due to confirm.
During his homily, Fr Michael gave some words of encouragement to the children and reminded them that they have their part to play in fighting the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“I know this is a tough time, but please don’t go out to meet up with your friends, or elderly relatives and grandparents,” Fr Toomey told them.
“It will save your loved ones, parents, grandparents and so many others from catching this terrible virus, which is affecting so many. Show your love by staying at home and limiting your contacts,” the priest appealed.
Fr Toomey added, “Just think, if you meet up with a group of friends, you might catch this, and go home and pass it onto everyone without even knowing it.”
“I know many of you are missing your friends, teammates, and neighbours. But we have phones. Ring, text, and keep busy. Keep mentally active. Read, watch, learn, take up a new hobby. Clean your room, and wash your hands! The more we keep social distancing, the quicker we can beat this.”
After the Mass, Fr Michael received a number of ‘thank you’ messages from the students, and some parents posted pictures online showing Fr Michael saying the Mass with their families watching at home.
Fr Toomey thanked everyone who came together virtually through technology. “The number of people who viewed the Mass live and on playback totalled over 2,400, the biggest daily audience since the service was launched in the parish last Easter. That is astounding and I thank everyone who took part in the Mass from home.”
Many of the families were grateful because it allowed their children to be connected while staying apart, and many said it was also a moving occasion.
Speaking to CatholicIreland.net Fr Toomey said, “Some comments I received from parents included, ‘Thanks so much for such a beautiful Mass – we even had cake afterwards!’ and ‘Beautiful Mass – to hear my son singing along to all the hymns alone was really emotional’ and ‘It meant a lot to us all’.”
For Fr Toomey explained, “It was lovely to say Mass for them all but very sad as well – as I was alone when the church should have been bursting at the seams. Yet to hear the responses online and in emails made it worth it. Prayer is always good.”
It is hoped that the confirmation ceremony will go ahead in May but this remains under review.
ChurchServicesTV provides live streaming of Masses from parishes across the country and is assisting RTE to broadcast daily weekday Masses at 10.30am on RTE News Now.
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv