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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s Monthly Letter – June 2020 – plans for resumption of public worship on July 5th


Dear Friends

Some brief words of greeting and I hope encouragement too. Normally what appears here is an online version of my ‘piece ‘ in the monthly diocesan magazine. We decided not to publish in June, but a summer edition will appear next month and will of course concentrate on plans for the resumption of public worship in an atmosphere of both joy yet inevitable social distancing.
Meanwhile so many of our parishes have been working imaginatively and creatively in the area of online worship. Even when the present crisis passes, this is bound to remain a feature of our common life going forward and so much has been learned so fast about the endless possibilities that are available in this area.
However, there can be no substitute for actually being physically ‘with one accord in one place ‘ and back at the Lord’s Table.  The governmental road map for the reopening of the country post – lockdown has been itself a living and changing document, but as I write there is every hope that public worship can resume on Sunday July 5 and parishes are starting to plan carefully for the demands as well as the opportunities this involves.
It will be splendid to return from an experience of neo- Biblical exile, and we can hope that we will have been in some ways enriched and strengthened by the experience of how we have had to ‘be church ‘ authentically in recent times. But no one should expect that, at least for the present, church services will be quite like they used to be. For example

– social distancing will be a feature of all we do in enclosed spaces, and this will affect particularly the ‘bigger’ occasions in our parish life. We will have to be apart in order to be  together, and we will have to work out where to place people safely in our buildings, and on certain occasions what the maximum capacity of those buildings can be allowed to be
– lovely as it will be to be together again, for the moment the pleasant sociability that often accompanies worship ( e.g. refreshments together ) will have to be paused
– there are concerns about the extent to which singing is safe in enclosed spaces, and we may have to vary the ways in which we enrich worship through the gift of music
– we will have to be terribly careful about every aspect of hand hygiene as we come and go from church
So things will be somewhat different and we will have to be both flexible and patient. But, for the first time since March 8.. an incredible length of time … the people of God in this diocese will be back doing what supremely makes them what they are ; namely ‘gathering the people ; breaking the bread ; telling the Story’
Institution of Castlecomer rector on July 3rd
As the people of Castlecomer Union return to church they will be doing so with the guidance of a new rector, the Reverend Edna Wakely, whom we warmly welcome into our midst bringing from her previous ministry in Limerick her rich pastoral and musical gifts. She will be instituted at a necessarily modestly attended, but never the less representative , service on Friday July 3.
Appointment soon
And as I write I am confident that an appointment to the position of Bishop’s Vicar in Kilkenny Union and St Canice’s Cathedral is about to be made.
The Reverend Ian Coulter – Templemore – liturgical and pastoral assistance
I am also very pleased that the Reverend Ian Coulter, who has in recent times provided most helpful liturgical and pastoral assistance in Castlecomer, will from next month be similarly involved in Templemore Union. It is a parish where he is already well known, and Ian is kindly willing to take charge of things there for the times that lie  immediately ahead.
Wonderful to be out and about again

It will be wonderful to be out and about in the diocese again. I know we must all continue to conduct ourselves carefully and with great regard to public health requirements lest there be any setback in the infection situation, and we continue to hold in our memory and our prayers all those who have been the direct and indirect victims of Covid – 19. But we strive to journey on in faith after these extraordinary months and, for myself , I even cherish the hope that my long planned 2020 tour of all the 150 places of worship in the diocese may yet be accomplished in some adjusted form before year’s end

Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory