Public masses suspended in Down and Connor

Public masses suspended in Down and Connor

18 March 2020

PUBLIC mass services across the diocese of Down and Connor have been suspended by Bishop Noel Treanor from today.

In a letter issued on Monday he said it was a time for extraordinary measures.

He said: “People were fearful of the impact the virus may have on the vulnerable and the aged and those with underlying health conditions.

“Many of our clergy and religious are vulnerable themselves. As Bishop, I have the responsibility to be mindful for their welfare. 

“Changes to the public celebration of Mass, the sacraments, and pastoral care are necessary to protect society from the transmission of illness. These measures are also necessary to safeguard the welfare of clergy and religious in these changing times.

Downpatrick parish priest Fr John Murray said it was an “unprecedented time”. 

“After St Patrick’s Day there will be no public masses but the church will remain open for private prayer. 

“However, we will continue to say Mass which will be available on the web cam. On Sundays no one will be able to receive communion, 

but people can make a spiritual communion instead.”

Fr Murray said couples who planned to marry might consider postponing their wedding until a more appropriate time.  

He said: “We will try to continue with normality, but we need to be sensible about larger gatherings such as wakes. We may need to find other alternatives to pay our respects.”

Fr Murray pointed out that ten Italian priests had died due to the virus in the last month. 

He said: “We must be careful and protect ourselves. We should pray that scientists may be able to come up with an antidote.  

He added: “We need St Patrick to lead us out of the coronavirus like he drove the snakes out of Ireland.”