First Communions ‘deferred’ until September due to Covid-19
The Bishop Of Derry has revealed that First Communions are to be ‘deferred’ until September as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to priests in parishes in the NI section of the diocese, Dr Donal McKeown said he did not take the decision lightly but was “conscious that we must do everything we can to ensure that life is protected in the midst of this pandemic”.
Turning to Confirmations, the Bishop said it was acceptable for parishes to make provisional arrangements for these in the month of June. However, he said he would review the situation in the middle of May.
Dr McKeown has also proposed that there should be a limitation in each church for those attending an individual Baptism.
He says Baptisms are limited to attendance by the immediate family only.
He added: “By ‘immediate family’ I mean the parents, godparents and siblings of a minor who is being baptised. If an adult is being baptised or received into the church, this may be attended by a spouse, their children and godparents. Where it is unavoidable that there are multiple Baptisms at the one time, the total of people present in the church, including clergy etc, should not exceed 25, the family groups should not mix inside or outside the church and should be four metres apart from each other.”
Dr McKeown said he was concerned about “parties and other socialising which, although completely disconnected from the celebration of the sacraments and the environs of the church, can and often do occur”.
He added: “It must also be recognised that such parties and socialising are a matter for the civil authorities and, indeed, are currently banned under civil COVID regulations; it is for the civil authorities to enforce civil laws... I think that, as church, we should go the extra step to assist in protecting public health by avoiding those situations which might with some regularity lead people to organise parties.”
The Bishop added that a return to any form of normality for church and society “will be slow and, in order to hold the progress that we have made towards normal practice of faith, patience will be needed in relation to the pace of such change.”