MASSES in one Donegal parish went ahead as normal this weekend in spite of fears over the spread of coronavirus.
The Donaghmore parish is located in the Derry Diocese and Masses at its two Churches – St Patrick’s, Crossroads and St Mary’s, Sessiaghoneill – were held on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Picture: St Mary’s Church, Sessiaghoneill and (insert) Fr Patsy Arkinson. Pictures by Joe Boland, North West Newspix
The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, in a Pastoral message issued on Friday, said that the normal routine of weekend Masses was suspended.
For the 12 parishes of the Diocese in County Donegal, the measures were to be in place with immediate effect, with the remainder of the Diocese, in Counties Derry and Tyrone, following on from Wednesday.
Parish Priest Fr Patsy Arkinson celebrated the Saturday Vigil and two Sunday morning Masses at St Mary’s Sessiaghoneill and said: “I wouldn’t be concerned when you look at the numbers coming out to the Masses.”
When asked by Donegal Daily about the Bishop’s instruction regarding the Donegal parishes in the Diocese, Fr Arkinson said he was unaware of a specific requirement to suspend Masses this weekend.
There were 42 people at the Saturday Vigil with 26 attending the 9am Sunday Mass. Around 40 people gathered for the 11am Sunday Mass.
At St Patrick’s, Crossroads, there were around 30 in the Saturday evening congregation with a similar crowd attending the Sunday morning mass, celebrated by Fr Francis Lynch.
“They have said that gatherings of over 100 were to be avoided, but we are not getting near that number,” Fr Arkinson said.
“We’re just rolling with it at the moment, but all of the Masses within the Diocese will cease after St Patrick’s Day.”
Masses from two of the Derry Diocese’s two other Donegal Churches, St Patrick’s, Murlog and St Patrick’s, Iskaheen, were streamed online.
“Priests should continue to celebrate weekend Masses privately, remembering in particular, all of those who are most affected by the virus as well as the dedicated services of health care workers and carers,” Bishop McKeown said in his message.
“The Coronavirus has created a lot of worry for many people. Matters are further complicated in this diocese by different approaches taken by the Irish and UK governments.”Tags: