A special service of music and prayer streamed live from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh on Sunday 10 May was viewed by an online audience of over 66,000 people. The ‘Celebration of Gratitude and Hope’ service, led by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, was dedicated to both victims of Covid-19, and those fighting the virus. The archbishop was joined by singers Karl McGuckin and Malachi Cush, along with a number of people who gave testimonies on the Covid-19 crisis, including the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Meela Campbell.

One of the testimonies was by Frances Barrett from Eglish, Co Tyrone. She has worked as a respiratory nurse specialist for over 25 years. Her work specialises in helping people with lung conditions and also teaching others in the specialist area of respiratory disease treatment. During her testimony, Frances spoke of the challenges nurses face at this time. She said, “This has been a particularly challenging time for everyone but perhaps even more so for those nurses and care workers within the hospital and community settings, as well as care homes and other care facilities. This evening we salute all nurses and carers for their bravery and courage during these challenging times and thank them for their continued dedication and commitment to their vital work in the care and support of the sick.”.

Emphasising the significance of International Nurses Day (which is marked today), Frances said “Recognising our nurses and carers at this time is indeed even more pertinent this evening as we are in the middle of National Nurses Week which culminates on Tuesday 12th May with International Nurses Day, coinciding with Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday”.

During the service, prayers were offered for all those who have died, those who mourn, and also to those who are trying to control the virus, particularly nurses and other frontline medical staff.

As the service drew to a close, Archbishop Eamon Martin prayed for hope and gratitude in these times, “Father, we thank you for this time of sacred song and prayer which has reminded us to have gratitude and to hold on to hope during these times of isolation.”

To watch the full service, click here.

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