Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick has acknowledged the pain and sacrifice that the public has to endure due to the impact of Covid-19 on Church services and sacraments, now including First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Despite the difficulty this has caused, the bishop stressed that “the Church is very much alive” in these times.
Bishop Leahy said, “As we move towards the end of April, an increasing number of parents are understandably asking – ‘what’s going to happen to the First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies?’ Clearly because of where we are now in this critical stage of the battle against Covid-19, we can certainly say they are not going to happen in April or May.
“Like all others, we must adhere to public authorities and what advice they give regarding large public gatherings. So, right now, it is impossible for us to re-schedule First Communion and Confirmation. And this is also true for Baptisms and Weddings.
Bishop Leahy said that he wished to write to the children preparing for First Communion and Confirmation to offer them words of encouragement, and invited children to respond to him with questions they may have or to send him a drawing, such as the one of the Risen Jesus that he recently received from eight-year-old Carmel.
In conclusion, Bishop Leahy said, “I read recently about a humorous cartoon of God talking to the ‘enemy.’ The Devil is saying, ‘With COVID19 I have closed your churches’, and with God answering, ‘on the contrary, I have opened a church in each house. This is something to really reflect on. Churches may be closed and the celebration of sacraments postponed but the Church is not closed. It is very much alive.
“I have heard of whole families coming together, in a way they haven’t for years, to participate in Mass being transmitted on Television or online in one way or another. I have heard of people looking up online how to pray the Rosary as they want to do so with loved ones who are dying or in their homes or mortuaries alongside the deceased.
“Covid-19, strangely, is helping bring about a new recognition that the Church exists not only in church buildings or when we celebrate the sacraments, essential as these are in the overall, but it exists in every family. For the Church as a whole, this could be one of the great learning outcomes from Covid-19.