Church of the Ascension, Gurranabraher
The Parish of Gurranabraher/Churchfield, (Irish: Garrán na mBráthar – meaning the grove of the Brothers), lies in the northern suburbs; about three kilometres from Cork city centre. It is bordered by Farranree on the east, by Sunday’s Well on the west, by Knocknaheeny on the north and the Cathedral parish on the south. The Church, which looks majestically over Cork city, was built and opened on Ascension Thursday, 1955 – originally serving as an out-station Church of the Cathedral until it was canonically erected as a parish on July 1, 1969.
Sunday: 9.00 am & 11.30 am
Saturday: 6.00 pm Vigil Mass
Weekdays: Monday to Friday, 8.00 am & 10.00 am, Saturday, 10.00 am
Working Holydays: 8.00 am & 10.00 am
Eve of Working Holydays: 6.00 pm Vigil
Evident throughout this Pandemic is the discriminatory way the ‘elderly’ have been treated by both Church and State. Arguably, the most socially responsible group in society have been robbed of their freedom to exercise choice and told that they must ‘cocoon’ – a word itself which suggests that they must be sheltered, cosseted, protected. Other equally high-risk groups such as the ‘obese’ and ‘diabetics’ etc, were given no such direct orders because it would be politically incorrect to do so. But, because over 70s are generally regarded as docile to the dictates of authority, they are singled out and discriminated against. Also, Priests over 70 have been ‘stood-down’ and deprived of exercising their priestly ministry during this pandemic. No dialogue here, no opportunity given for them to make moral choices – and no opportunity given for men to become heroes. For long the Church has accused both the media and politicians of being influenced too often by ‘group-think’ yet this ‘dictat’ is a fine example of it. As in most other things in society today there is a huge absence of common-sense.
As and from tomorrow Monday, 18th May, Churches across Ireland are permitted to open its door for private worship only – subject to strict conditions. (Liturgical worship and the celebration of the Sacraments will be permitted to resume at a later date). Some of the conditions are:
- Signs on display indicating what is expected of all worshippers entering the church;
- Regular and rigid cleaning of the space used by worshippers;
- Physical distance (2m) be maintained at all times among worshippers;
- The sanitization of hands by worshippers arriving and leaving the church building;
- Worshippers will enter via one door and leave via another maintaining a one-way system;
- A roster of Stewards be established to ensure that there is compliance with required regulations.
Here at Gurranabraher, our church will be open each weekday from 10am to 3pm. We appeal to parishioners to once again find refuge and strength in this church building where generations before us have sought refuge at crisis moments in their lives.
While Covid-19 infections and death rates have fallen – (thanks to the punitive measures already taken) – a resurgence still presents a real and ever present danger. The expense incurred so far in curtailing the virus is threatening to bankrupt many, many states. Any major re-occurrence now will be a cataclysmic event for Ireland and many other nations. Hence, each of us must do all in our power to make sure that Covid-19 is kept at bay. We, Catholics, illuminated by the gospel, know that prayer is a central element in ridding the world of this pestilence. For the sake of our future – and the future of our children – we need to intercede fervently before God to show us the way out of this morass. Let our churches be places once again where people plead before the Lord – and may these prayers be answered for all our sakes.
It now seems that Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come – and finding a vaccination may prove a more difficult task than is presumed. A complete ‘lock-down’ cannot be the answer long-term vis-à-vis mental health and social cohesion. Surely some imaginative ways must be discovered to allow life return to some kind of ‘new-normal’ – and particularly to allow religious people – whose first instinct is to intercede before God for solutions to this pestilence – find refuge where they have always found refuge in God’s house.
The Christian community is the most socially aware in Ireland today. It is not a co-incidence that ‘Church-gate’ collections are still very profitable despite falling congregations. Prior to the shut-down the small weekday congregation in most churches was aware of the threat of Covid-19 – and took the recommended precautions seriously; i.e. social distancing, sanitizing hands, even wearing face-masks. In present day Ireland almost any church building has the space for social distancing – and the good intent is there to make sure that it is not contributing to the problem. Visiting churches for private adoration poses no greater risk than shopping in Lidl or Supervalu or the local Off-License’. For sure, the sick, the elderly, those with health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19, and people who are just fearful of catching it should be strongly encouraged to stay at home. Masses could be shortened so as to reduce the amount of time people are in any kind of proximity to each other. One thing that is becoming clearer is that the risk of infection from contact with surfaces has been greatly exaggerated, as the recently published study from Germany has concluded. There is no need to fear touching doors, benches, etc. It is high time to be reasonable about this and get over the inordinate fear that is paralyzing.
As the world is going through the Covid-19 crisis and the resulting home confinements, Shalom World, by the Grace of God, has prepared a spiritual banquet for the Holy week in an effort to help people to combat distress, agony, hopelessness and depression with the Peace found in Jesus Christ.