Tag Archives: Covid-19

Public Celebration of Masses


13th March 2020

In line with national and governmental efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19, the decision is reluctantly taken to cancel all public Masses in the Diocese of Achonry including Vigil and Sunday Masses this weekend up to and including March 29th.

Priests will continue to celebrate Masses in their parishes but not open to the public. The intentions of all parishioners and all affected by the current difficult and challenging situation will be remembered.

Churches will be open during the days for personal visits and prayer. All faithful are asked to pray for a speedy and safe outcome to the difficulties posed by Covid-19.

Funerals, weddings and Baptisms will continue to be celebrated. However numbers attending will be restricted to the maximum 100, in accordance with instructions received.

Fr Dermot Meehan, Dioceasan Administrator of Achonry, calls for widespread prayer and asks that all people act for the common good and promotion of healthcare. He also asks for prayers for all on the frontline, engaging with those in most and direct need.

Webcams are installed in a number of our churches and Mass may be accessed in this way and through local radio. Please share in these Masses and be united in prayer.



Please click on these links to join in celebration of Parish Masses.

Ballaghaderreen Webcam
























Coolaney Webcam Vigil




Kiltimagh Webcam






7.30pm (Friday)




Webcam 12noon 10.00am

COVID-19 Irish Episcopal Conference Guidelines

Serving the common good
As people of faith we are called to face the fears of this moment with a courage not our own and with a generous heart.  God is with his people in good times and bad.  Like believers in every age we say: ‘If I should walk in The Valley of Darkness no evil would I fear for You are there’.  In our hour of trial Jesus calls on us, his followers, to serve the common good by taking responsibility for each other and to prioritise the most vulnerable in our community ahead of our own individual wants and aspirations.  At this time our first concern has to be for the elderly, the ill and those with underlying medical conditions.

As bishops we present the following directions in the light of current public health authority advice in Ireland, north and south, aware that these might have to change at very short notice.

While acknowledging that the following directives will involve sacrifice for all, we encourage a positive engagement in order that the most vulnerable amongst us can be protected and so that the coronavirus can be contained.

Hand Hygiene
–          It is important that hand sanitiser is provided at each entrance of the church.
–          Holy water fonts should remain empty at this time.
–          The Sign of Peace is not to be expressed by hand shaking.
–          Having received Holy Communion, and before and after distributing, the priest and ministers should sanitise their hands.
–          Collection baskets: priests are asked to provide an alternative to the practice of passing collection baskets through the congregation.  The faithful are asked to continue their generous contributions to the upkeep of their parish.

Receiving Holy Communion in the hand
We ask that Holy Communion be received in the hand until the current crisis has passed.

Sunday / Weekday Mass
At this time the celebration of Mass on Sundays and on weekdays – including Saint Patrick’s Day – will continue as normal.  However, those with underlying conditions and those who are considered vulnerable are dispensed from their Sunday obligation to attend.  We strongly encourage people with such conditions to be spiritually united with their local community. Where possible they should avail of parish radio broadcasts and webcam.  While in church and as far as possible people are asked to keep a safe distance from one another, in keeping with current advice.

The Sacrament of Confirmation
The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is a happy and joyous occasion which brings people together from far and wide.  We ask that people with underlying health conditions and who are considered vulnerable from a health perspective, should not attend the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation will continue for now but may have to be postponed at very short notice in the light of future advice from the public health authorities. The anointing with the Oil of Chrism will be administered without direct touch, in a safe and appropriate manner, such as with the use of a cotton bud.

Celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick
Concerning the pastoral care of the sick and the administration of the sacrament, the priest will use a cotton bud or surgical glove for the anointing with Holy Oil and dispose of them appropriately.

The Sacrament of Baptism
During this time the celebrant will sign the child with the Cross without touching.  Where there is more than one child being baptised, a single jug of fresh water will be blessed and used.  The anointing with the Holy Oils will be administered by the use of cotton buds.

The community of faith will always seek to surround the funerals and burials of its deceased members with love and respect.  However, even now it is clear that people with underlying conditions, and who are vulnerable, should not attend funerals.  For the same reason, when sympathising, people should not shake hands.

The Church awaits official guidance from the public health authorities in the event of a deterioration in the situation.  While abiding by all such advice, the Church will always stand with the bereaved and do its best to ensure a Christian burial for those who request it.

Concelebration of Mass
In light of our particular circumstances at this time, and health authority guidance, the bishops have given permission for only the main celebrant to receive from the chalice, when concelebration is deemed necessary.

Reviewing this information
We ask everyone to continue to follow the guidance of the public health authorities north and south.  As the situation evolves, Church-specific information will be updated and published on local diocesan websites, on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference www.catholicbishops.ie and on their related digital media platforms.

Prayer for our protection
We ask for prayers for those affected by the Coronavirus.  Placing all our trust in the Lord, and asking Our Lady to intercede for us, we invite everyone to pray these prayers:

Extract from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer.  Amen.


This guidance document gives general advice about preventing the spread of COVID-19 during religious services. While the guidance describes several practices specific to Christian religious services, people from other religious groups can adapt the advice to their specific requirements.


In late December 2019 Chinese authorities identified a cluster of novel coronavirus infections in Wuhan City, China. The name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2 and the name of the disease it causes is COVID-19.

The outbreak has evolved rapidly and further global spread is likely. Because of the risk of the disease spreading to Ireland, we must take all possible action to prevent the potential spread of the disease in the community.

COVID-19 can be a mild or severe illness. The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever (high temperature)

COVID-19 can also result in more severe illness including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Kidney Failure

Further information on COVID-19 is available on the HSE website at:


The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is spread mainly through droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. You could get the virus if you:

  • come into contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
  • touch surfaces or objects that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

General recommendations for all

People who are ill should not attend religious services.

If members of the congregation, religious leaders (e.g. priests) or others involved in religious services (e.g. ministers of the Eucharist) feel ill and may have COVID-19 (see below), even if their symptoms are mild, they should stay at home and follow this advice:

If you feel unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, high temperature)


If in the 14 days before you became unwell, you have:

  • travelled to Ireland from an area with presumed ongoing community transmission of COVID-19or
  • been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, or
  • attended/worked in a healthcare facility where patients with COVID-19 were being treated then you should:
  • Isolate yourself (i.e. stay separate from other people)
  • Phone your GP without delay. If you do not have a GP phone the Emergency Services on 999 or 112 and ask for the National Ambulance Service. Tell your GP/Emergency Services about your travel history and symptoms.
  • It is important that you PHONE your GP first and talk to them rather than arriving at the GP surgery without contacting them so that you don’t put staff or other patients at risk of infection.
  • Your GP/Emergency Services will advise you of the next steps over the phone.

If members of the congregation, religious leaders (e.g. priests) or others involved in religious services (e.g. ministers of the Eucharist) feel well and have no symptoms, but in the past 14 days they have:

High risk groups

Those considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19 include the following:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People with long-term medical conditions – for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or liver disease

Reducing the spread of infection-leaders and congregation

You should always practice good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. Hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are a series of actions to take which are designed to reduce the spread of disease, including COVID-19, to yourself and others. These actions include regular handwashing and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or the bend of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

Hand hygiene:

Wash your hands regularly. You should wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before, during and after you prepare food
  • before eating
  • after using the toilet
  • before and after caring for sick individuals
  • when hands are dirty
  • after handling animals or animal waste

Wash your hands with soap and running water when hands are visibly dirty. If your hands are not visibly dirty, wash them with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.

See HSE hand hygiene guidance at  https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/how-to-wash-your-hands.html

Respiratory hygiene:

Cover your mouth and nose with a clean tissue when you cough and sneeze and then promptly dispose of the tissue in a bin and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow instead, not into your hands.

Posters on preventing spread of infection are available on the HPSC website.

Settings where religious services take place, including churches, should take the following actions

  • Advise religious leaders/clergy and congregation not to attend if they are ill.
  • Have a plan for dealing with religious leaders or members of the congregation who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 during a service, including isolating them from other people and seeking medical advice without delay (e.g. phone a GP/ Emergency Services).
  • Supply tissues and alcohol based hand gel at religious services/gatherings.
  • Provide bins for disposal of tissues at religious gatherings.
  • Ensure hand-washing facilities, including soap and disposable towels, are well maintained .
  • Ensure all hard surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles, hand rails, taps and pews are cleaned regularly with a household detergent.
  • Have a plan for how the church will continue or suspend its activities in the event of religious leaders/clergy becoming ill with COVID-19.

Religious leader/clergy administrations to sick laity should be carefully managed

To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Ireland. If there is a case, it is highly likely that the patient will be treated in a hospital and their pastoral care can be provided in the hospital according to established protocols and with full compliance with infection prevention and control guidance and in close consultation with their treating doctor.

People at increased risk of gettingCOVID-19, including people who have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, may be asked to limit their social interactions for 14 days, including staying at home and not attending work or religious services. In order to reduce the possible spread of infection, these people should not be visited by religious leaders/members of the clergy while they are in self isolation. Pastoral care can be provided over the telephone/skype if resources permit.

Physical interaction during religious services, e.g. Sign of Peace

Most physical interaction during religious services, e.g. shaking hands while exchanging the ‘Sign of Peace’ in christian religious services, involves a low risk of spreading the virus especially if members of the congregation who are unwell do not attend religious services while they are ill. However, because COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been seen in people before, we need to exercise extreme caution to limit the spread of the virus. Current information suggests that COVID-19 can spread easily between people and could be spread from an infected person even before they develop any symptoms. For these reasons we suggest that physical interaction during religious services, including the Sign of Peace, should be suspended. For Christian religious services, the priest may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative Sign of Peace that does not involve hand contact  (such  as  smile/ nod/ bow)  if so wished.

The practice of shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/ gatherings should be suspended for both religious leaders/clergy and laity.

Holy water fonts

Because COVID-19 is a new disease and appears to spread easily between people, w e advise that holy water fonts should not be used.

Holy Communion

Everyone administering Holy Communion should wash their hands or use alcohol based hand gel before beginning.

Holy Communion should be administered into the hands only and NOT onto the tongue

Using communal vessels for food and drink during religious services, e.g. drinking from the Chalice during Holy Communion in Christian services

To minimise the risk of spread of infection, the use of communal vessels should be suspended. For example, during Holy Communion in Christian religious services only the celebrant should drink from the Chalice. No one else should drink from the Chalice – this includes other priests, ministers of the Eucharist and members of the congregation.

Alternatives to direct sharing of the Chalice should also be AVOIDED including:

  1. 1. Intinction, i.e.:

the Communion wafer is dipped in the Chalice and administered into the hand

the Communion wafer is administered into the communicant’s hand and they dip

it into the Chalice

  1. 2. Distribution of Communion wine through individual small cups

Arrangements for parochial activities/social religious gatherings

Parochial activities/social religious gatherings on church premises should follow sensible practices, including hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene as described in this guidance. Posters/notices formally stating any guidance or changes in practice should be clearly displayed and appropriate leaflets should be circulated.

Further sources of information

Further information on COVID-19 is available on the HSE website at:


and the HPSC website at:


HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre www.hpsc.ie

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