Members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference gathered in-person last week for their Spring 2022 General Meeting at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. The President of the Conference is Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and the Vice-President is Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin.
Welcoming the full return to public worship, bishops stated, “As the remaining Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, it is encouraging to see a return to full public worship in our parishes, and the resumption of all aspects of Church and community life. At the heart of the life of our parish communities is the Sunday Mass. When we gather for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day, we do so to express our joy in the Risen Lord and to unite with our brothers and sisters in the Church in thanksgiving and praise to God. This is a communal celebration which shapes us as a community of faith, life and charity.
Emphasising the centrality of the Sunday Obligation to the Catholic Faith, bishops said, “We pray in the Mass that it is ‘indeed right and just, our duty and our salvation’ to give thanks to the Lord, and the Sunday Eucharist is our greatest act of thanksgiving. During the Season of Lent, we encourage everyone to return to Sunday and weekday Mass in our churches, welcoming each other back as we gather once more together. From Easter Sunday, 17 April, this will once again be deemed an essential expression of faith for all in our Church in Ireland. As always, those whose health is vulnerable or who are unwell will not be under any obligation to attend Mass, and should keep themselves safe and pray at home until they are better.
In conclusion, bishops said, “We remain grateful to all those who risked their lives and made sacrifices in hospitals and other settings to keep us safe during the pandemic. We appreciate the commitment of priests who continued to minister the sacraments to the best of their ability, notwithstanding the risk this posed to their own life and health. In doing so, priests gave powerful witness to the faith. We also give thanks for the many people in our parishes who worked so hard to maintain our worship and parish life in the safest way possible. We keep in our prayers all who have been impacted in any way during the pandemic, especially the bereaved. As civil commemorations are planned in Ireland for the weekend of the 18 – 20 March, with a National Day of Remembrance and Reflection on Sunday 20 March, we invite all in our parish communities to unite in spirit and in prayerful reflection.”