THE CATHOLIC Church is appealing for young volunteers to assist with church services once Masses recommence in Ireland.
The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said that in order for churches to reopen for worship, young volunteers would be required to assist with cleaning, giving readings and the general ministering of the Eucharist.
In a statement, released in the wake of Leo Varadkar’s announcement that the lifting of lockdown restrictions across Ireland would be accelerated, Archbishop Martin called on “younger members of our parishes" to help “manage the transition back to full parish life and celebration of the sacraments.”
“We will need volunteers to assist with cleaning, stewarding, reading, ministering the Eucharist and other roles and responsibilities which some of our older members may be unable to fulfil at this time.”
Despite the appeal for help, the Archbishop admitted the process of reopening churches would be carried out “slowly and tentatively”.
“Some people may prefer, for a while, to continue to join us virtually from home over webcam, because of their vulnerability or because of nervousness about going out immediately into gatherings.
“Some of our priests are cocooning and will be unable, at first, to provide their usual services and ministry.
“Because of recommendations on physical distancing and hygiene, it will be necessary to reduce considerably the number of people who can gather inside church buildings at any one time.”
Under the Taoiseach’s proposals, Ireland is set to enter ‘Phase Two Plus’ from tomorrow.
The changes will see up to 25 immediate family and close friends able to attend funeral services for loved ones, in a major upgrade on the maximum of 10 allowed on services held since mid-March.
Phase three, which begins on June 29, will see people allowed to attend religious services again.
The Archbishop was eager to stress that churches would be taking all the necessary precautions to help contain the virus and staying vigilant at all times.
“Of course, we know that we must all remain responsible in helping to keep the virus suppressed by practising physical distancing, good hygiene and by continuing to respect health guidelines on movement and gatherings.”
He also sought to acknowledge the sacrifices of those working on the frontline and those who have suffered as a result of the pandemic.
“Like everyone, I am so grateful and thank God for our healthcare workers and their backup teams who have tirelessly and selflessly served us, and witnessed so powerfully to the tenderness and compassion of God,” he said.
“We are deeply conscious that the virus has devastated the economy, destroyed livelihoods and brought untold grief to those families whose loved ones have died, in many cases without the usual physical closeness that we would have wanted to provide for them.”