A PARISH priest in Ireland has been busy delivering a symbolic message of hope to thousands of parishioners isolated or alone during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For three-and-a-half days, Fr Richard Gibbons, the rector of Knock Shrine in Mayo, has been driving around the local region, blessing the homes of local people far and wide.
Equipped with copious amounts of Holy Water, a Bible and his white cassock, Fr Gibbons visited some 58 townlands between Tuesday and Friday of last week.
Eager to offer some support and solace to the many believers unable to attend church under the current government lockdown restrictions, Fr Gibbons had originally intended to bless the Holy water fonts located in the parish.
However, he began to notice that wherever he went local people would come to their windows or doors in hope more than expectation.
After blessing a few of the houses on his route, word began to get round, prompting Father Gibbons to embark on a systematic blessing of the entire region.
“It took three and a half days to do, but the weather was fantastic and I had the time to do it as well,” he told the Irish Mirror.
All told, Father Gibbons reckons he blessed 1,000 homes in the local area.
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“The main idea was to help the people understand that we haven’t forgotten them and [we knew] that they’d like to see me in person as well,” he said.
He added: “I blessed every single house but if I saw somebody outside of the house or near it or farmers in their land I’d talk to them and just say hello and ask them how they were doing and that kind of thing.”
“Even with the social distancing there’s nothing to beat a face to face or a person to person connection and they really do appreciate it.”
A much-loved key worker in the community, Fr Gibbons once told The Journal: “The joy that comes from truly Christian living comes alive each day we offer to people our hope, our presence, our prayers and even our laughter.”