Early in 2020 the daily news bulletins were reporting a virus which began in China and had the potential to spread around the world. Unfortunately, these news reports continued and as the days progressed precautions were being introduced throughout the world to try and prevent the spread of the virus which then was named as Covid 19 or Coronavirus.
The Diocese of Down and Connor then began making recommendations for Parishes to start taking precautions and one of the first of these was to remove Holy Water from all the fonts in Churches as water was identified as a way the virus could be spread among people.
The Parish of Ardkeen duly complied with this recommendation by emptying the Holy Water fonts in both our Churches at the beginning of March. This was a huge step for all parishes and something that had never been seen before. The next step to be taken to try and prevent the spread of the virus was the suspension of the celebration of Public Masses in Churches and so the last Public Masses to be celebrated in the Parish were Vigil Mass for St Patrick’s Day on 16th March in St Mary Star of the Sea and the Day Mass on St Patrick’s Day in St Joseph’s.
As time progressed steps were being introduced by Governments throughout the world almost on a daily basis to try and stop the spread of the virus among the population and the next step to affect Parish Life was the closure of Churches and graveyards which also took place in March.
Our Parish Priest, Fr Alexander, very quickly responded to what was happening to the spiritual welfare of the Parish and with the help of a number of Parishioners, weekly Faith Survival Kits were introduced to keep Parishioners up to date and also provide some spiritual support. The first Faith Survival Kit was published on 22nd March. Plans were also put in place to connect with Parishioners using Social Media through streaming Masses, daily Rosary and other faith based ceremonies using YouTube and Facebook.
Fr Alexander also began Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from the ‘Upper Room’ in the Parochial House every Wednesday from Noon until 8pm. This allowed Parishioners to come and sit in their cars and spend some time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.