NOW THAT THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND HAS GONE INTO “LOCK DOWN” TO COUNTERACT CORONAVIRUS WE ALL HAVE TO SERIOUSLY STOO AND THINK.
This affects us very much in Northern Ireland as we are on one island with the Republic.
Coronavirus does not recognise national borders.
A threat to the Republic of Ireland is a threat to Northern Ireland.
And ALL OF US must do everything we can to counteract this REAL, SERIOUS, THREAT.
I have made the decision personally to avoid all unnecessary social interactions and journeys.
Our Sunday Mass at The Oratory will have hand sanitizers with 80% alcohol content for people to use as they enter and leave The Oratory.
There will be Communion in the hand only and no shared chalice.
We never have a hand to hand collection and people , if they wish, can drop a donation in a bag on the way out.
We are cancelling our after Mass refreshments for the foreseeable future.
As most of my weddings are from the Republic I will encourage, but not force, couples and families to postpone dates.
If the situation worsens I will cancel all Masses and ceremonies.
At all times our congregation and I will faithfully observe all government and medical advice and guidelines.
I was due to visit Maghaberry Prison yesterday afternoon and I cancelled my visit in the interests of the welfare of the prisoners, the prison staff, visitors and myself.
I have no intention of stockpiling foods medications, toiletries or meds. No one needs to stockpile. I believe government reassureances about the security of supplies.
There is no need for panic.
But there is a most urgent need for calm, rationality, abiding by government and medical advice and, I think, care for others and trust in God.
And, as the Irish government has recommended the cancellation of all indoor meeting of over 100 people, all churches attracting such numbers should suspend their services.
MESSAGE SENT TO THE ORATORY CONGREGATION LAST NIGHT.