Cancellation of Masses because of Covid 19 – UPDATED with Irish Bishops’ statement

It seems that all Masses with congregations will be cancelled in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Archbishop Neary of Tuam has issued the following directive.

In line with the Government announcement of a few minutes ago, Archbishop Neary has asked me to inform you that Confirmation ceremonies are CANCELLED until further notice. He regrets the disruption and inconvenience this will cause, but he takes the decision in the interests of public health.

In view of the Taoiseach’s directive: “Indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled”, the seriousness of the situation requires that we comply with this. Therefore, all Masses with congregations in parishes in the Archdiocese of Tuam should be cancelled. The Archbishop asks that in parishes where webcam and parish radio facilities are available that they be used to maximum effect.

The Archbishop recommends that churches remain open so that the faithful can go there to pray, and he again encourages everybody to pray for all those affected by this Covid-19 virus and all those working tirelessly to deal with it.

As updated advice is received, I will pass it on to you.



Prayer for our protection

We ask for prayers for those affected by the Coronavirus.  Placing all our trust in the Lord, and asking Our Lady to intercede for us, we invite everyone to pray these prayers:

Extract from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.



Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,

implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence,

I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.

To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,

despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer.  Amen.


Issued by the Irish Bishops’s Conference.

The following instructions take into consideration the new norms issued by the Irish government to be in force at 18.00 today.  Bishops are asked to promulgate these instructions in their dioceses as soon as possible.

These instructions complement the advice issued yesterday by the Irish Episcopal Conference and remain in place until 29 March 2020.  It is likely that these restrictions will continue for some time after that, and instructions regarding the celebration of Holy Week will be issued in due course.

The motivation for these new restrictive measures is a sense of care for the common good and especially for those most vulnerable.  Each Christian community should be acutely aware of the responsibility to care for those who are most at risk.  For example, even where it may not be appropriate to visit the elderly, a simple telephone call to enquire about their needs could mean so much to them.


–          All non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings, such as formation gatherings, retreats and seminars are cancelled.

–          All Confirmations are postponed until further notice.

–          Every Catholic is entitled to a dignified Christian burial.  Attendance at Funeral services and Masses should be limited to close relatives and must not exceed 100 attendees within the church building.

–          Similarly, Church weddings and baptisms may be celebrated on condition that the attendance in church does not exceed 100 people.

–          In these difficult and uncertain times, people find strength, consolation and hope in prayer.   Churches should remain open for prayer each day.

–          In the current emergency situation, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass.  Parishes should inform parishioners of the local possibilities to participate in Mass via local radio and online.  It may be possible for some parishes to facilitate attendance at Mass while still observing the health authority’s limit of 100 people.

–          This is an occasion for all of us – especially in families – to pray more intensely for each other and especially for those who have succumbed to the illness.  We should pray also for those at the frontlines – especially doctors, nurses and medical staff and other carers, including clergy – that the Lord will protect them as they place their own wellbeing at risk in the service of all.

Similar Posts


  1. Adrian Egan says:

    This does not match with the disappointing and ambivalent statement from the Bishops regarding Sunday Mass. They want us to count 100 through the door and then what? Archbishop Neary’s statement is much clearer, yet his name is also added to the general bishops statement. Which are we to follow?

    1. Mattie Long says:

      I agree. Archbishop Neary (my own Archbishop) is to be commended; there is no room for any doubt with his directive.
      The situation is too serious for any ambivalence.
      We received a further directive from Archbishop Neary along with the Bishops’ statement.

      “The advice below (Bishops’ Statement) may be of assistance to you in relation to Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.
      The Archbishop’s advice earlier today in relation to the cancellation of all Sunday and daily Masses with congregations is still in place”

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Two reflections on dealing with the Covid-19 era – on not having Sunday (or weekday) Mass; and on providing for funerals.


    Not being able to go to Mass, whether Sundays or weekdays, will leave significant numbers of people with a sense of loss. In our parish we will continue our normal schedule of celebrations but they will be accessible over the internet.
    When I have not been able to get to the church because of sickness, I have tuned in, previously to Sunday Mass on television, and in recent years to our parish. While this is certainly a good thing, I have never felt “engaged” with the celebration as I would when gathered in community. It feels like I am an observer rather than a participant.

    How can we address this? What can we do to assist people at home to be the “domestic church”, to celebrate the Lord’s Day, whether at home alone or in a household with others?

    One way is to share at the “Table of the Word” at home, either with those in the household, or on line with friends by Skype or Facebook or some such utility. How could they do this?

    The readings for Mass each day are available on line in Irish and English on the website of the Irish Catholic bishops ( just click the link for Mass Readings. Of course, they are also available in a different translation on the ACP website (, with some commentary. The Irish Carmelites ( have commentary of the readings for the week – click on the Prayer menu. We have people of many languages in many parishes; the Sunday readings are available in 13 European languages from Vienna International Religious Center (, where they can be downloaded in PDF format, with a “meditation.” Each PDF has two copies – print it at two pages per sheet.

    Parishes which use Mass Leaflets, which will not be used while regular celebration is suspended, can put them out for people to take home beforehand.

    What I would suggest is to print the readings. Then, on the day, take a minute or two in prayer – the Our Father for example, or “Come Holy Spirit,” select and read one of the readings alone or together, aloud or silently.
    With pencil or pen or highlighter:
    1. Mark or underline any word or phrase in the reading which seems important to you;
    2. Put a question mark at any part which is puzzling or which seems to make no sense;
    3. Circle any word or phrase which you find challenging or inspiring.

    Then each person picks out what they have marked, and, in turn, tells the other(s) why they marked it in that way. It’s not a competition to find “right answers”, nor agreeing or disagreeing with one another. It’s simply sharing with others how the reading strikes you. It may be surprising to those taking part how each person may have a distinctly different response. Even if another person’s thoughts seem odd, accept them as the genuine experience of the other person. The purpose is to enrich our understanding of how the reading speaks to us as individuals and as a community. Some taking part may like to say how it reflects their own experience, or makes a difference, or sheds light on their parish or the world we live in.

    To follow on, those taking part might like to mention any person or matter they would like to remember in a “prayer of the faithful.” Then finish with a joint prayer of choice. If a cuppa follows, just remember to “say grace” – to give thanks for the food, and for one another, and for the sharing of the Word of God.


    If some projections about Covid-19 come about, we are very likely to have a significant increase in the number of funerals this year. This not scare-mongering, but is based on projections as we have them.

    In 2018 there were 31,118 deaths in this country. The HSE did not disagree with projections that up to 2 million people could get contract Covid-19. For 80 per cent it will be mild, but 15 to 20 per cent may need hospitalisation. The mortality rate could be between 2 and 3 per cent. But if just 1 million people contract Covid-19, 2 per cent of that is 20,000. Although there would be overlap with those who would normally die this year, there would inevitably be a significant increase nationally. It would not be evenly spread over the year. The age profile of priests puts us in a more vulnerable section of the population. We cannot rely on all priests now in service to be available. When a Catholic funeral is requested, it is likely that priests alone will not be able to deal with them all.

    This then is a time for parishes around the country to put the situation to the people, and to ask for volunteers from the parish to lead funeral services in the church building and in the cemetery or crematorium. So that no one or two people would be burdened with too much, a parish may need to build up to six or more funeral ministers.

    Some parishes already have this. To find a way now, urgently, to call for volunteers and to prepare them and introduce them to such an important and sensitive ministry, is a challenge. We cannot wait.

    Could each diocese prepare resources for people to use in preparing for this? Can parishes which already do this share their experience and resources?

  3. Joe O'Leary says:

    The message of Card. De Donatis is to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Rome is a model pastoral response:

    Google Translation

    Google Translate Part 2

    Here’s a novel of 1722 that takes on new meaning now:

    There is a movie version by Gabriel García Márquez, author of “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

    See Massimo Faggioli’s essay:

    “What does it mean to practice radical hospitality in the time of a pandemic? How true is that we see ourselves as one people of God if we don’t measure everything we do against the needs of the weakest among us?

    “This crisis could be an opportunity to rediscover the wisdom of Catholic social doctrine, especially concerning universal access to health care as a fundamental right, but also the role of government regulations for the sake of the common good. We will see who among the episcopates and other Catholic leaders will be receptive to this challenge.”

  4. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Joe, are you trying to scare us, test our linguistic abilities, or just put the fear of God or Somebody in us?

  5. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    On broadcasting Mass live on the internet from the parish church:
    This is what we have done so far in our parish. On St Patrick’s Day on the 12 noon Mass, it was good but felt somewhat weird celebrating in a large empty church with just a handful of church helpers.
    Last Sunday 359 people tuned in – mostly in Ireland, but also in many places around the world. On St Patrick’s Day I invited those with us on line to send an email to the parish, so we could have some idea of the kind of scattered and yet united congregation we have!
    While members of the parish would be used to Mass in the parish church,I wonder might we consider, in the current situation, having the celebration in a more informal small setting rather than a large empty building?
    Perhaps the handful of people gathered around a table (and appropriately spaced apart!) in a smaller room, if the parish webcam can be relocated temporarily. Alternatively, refocus the webcam on a small area within the larger church, again set up as might be at a house Mass. Would those who then join us on line feel this setting more intimate and engaging?
    Has any parish arranged it like this?
    It was announced this evening that during the current situation where public Mass is suspended, RTÉ will broadcast Mass each weekday at 10.30am on RTÉ News Now channel from St Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny.
    It will be followed by reflections from members of other churches and faiths.

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.