Pastoral Letter from Bishop Kenneth

Diocese of Limerick and Killaoe

3 March 2020.

Dear Friends,

I write to you one week after the announcement of the total lock-down of the country, as we face into Holy Week and Easter without the traditional sequence of Holy Week services leading us through the narrative of Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion followed by his triumphant resurrection on Easter Day.

In this very unreal situation the news each day bring us most of the content of our prayers – the suffering and fears of those living in much worse crises than our own, for example in Italy and Spain, where the level of fear is unimaginable. We remember those without the resources or ability to protect themselves, those who are homeless or in prison or in direct provision; those who live in migrant camps in the Middle East or south-eastern Europe. We remember in prayer those in hospital or who have been bereaved; those who have lost their jobs or income and are fearful for the future.

We can each tell our own stories of families and friends. For ourselves, Jennifer and I had a second grandchild two weeks ago. I wasn’t able to travel to Dublin immediately (the hospital wouldn’t allow us in anyway) but decided to drive up on Friday evening last, and arrived just as the announcement was being made that the country was in lockdown, and I couldn’t move more than 2 km! We haven’t been able to hold our new grand-daughter as yet and have to make do with seeing her through the patio window. A small inconvenience considering what others are facing, but part of our own story.

A number of churches in our diocese have been able to broadcast services, primarily for their parishioners, but many others are now joining in. Information about these are being gathered on our diocesan website Please send information and links to our Communications Officer, Mr Stephen Fletcher. Remarkably, Nenagh Parish has been broadcasting daily services, morning and evening at 10am and 7 pm, Monday to Saturday, as well as Sunday services, and as far as we can establish, this is the only parish church in the Church of Ireland (apart from cathedrals) maintaining this ministry online – do join them if you can.

For Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day, I’m suggesting we all try to participate in the same service throughout the diocese.

Holy Thursday: St Columba’s Church, Ennis at 8 pm – ‘Tenebrae’. This ancient service of the church is being revived for use on Holy Thursday in many parts of the church.

Good Friday: St Mary’s Cathedral Limerick. The Good Friday Service. Will be broadcast by RTE on the RTE Now News Channel at 10.30 am.

Easter Day:  St Mary’s Church, Nenagh. 11am Service of Light for Easter Day.

Please especially note the TV broadcast from St Mary’s Cathedral on Good Friday, and note that it will be on the RTE News Now channel.

Each of these services (except that broadcast by RTE on Good Friday) can be accessed through our diocesan website

Plans are being made in the longer term for services to be broadcast from our two cathedrals, St Mary’s Limerick and St Flannan’s Killlaloe, each Sunday which will be available across the diocese, and will be of help to those in hospital or residents of nursing homes, or those who find it difficult to attend church regularly.

Not surprisingly all meetings in the diocese are also cancelled until further notice. A decision was made at a recent council meeting that between meetings of Diocesan Council a small committee comprising the Bishop, the Archdeacons, and a lay person elected by Council (Mr Andrew Eadie of Killarney Parish was elected to this) supported by our Diocesan Secretary, is authorised to make decisions and transact business on behalf of Council between meetings.

I’m also asking a small group within the Finance Committee to exercise the functions of the Finance Committee until meetings resume. They are: The Bishop, Mr Roy Benson (Killaloe), Mr Andrew Eadie (Killarney) and Mr Peter Schutz (Limerick), supported by our Diocesan Secretary.

Our Diocesan Synod, scheduled for June is also postponed, as is General Synod scheduled for next May.

One of the benefits of this time of crisis has been our rediscovery of the importance of community. Ironically, as we are asked to distance ourselves from others, we have begun to contact each other more and remain in touch. Those who are having to isolate are being phoned regularly; neighbours and friends are co-operating and helping each other.

Let’s try to stay in touch with each other both as parishes and as a diocese as well.
And share this letter within the parish if you wish to anyone who may not have received it.

Do keep safe, and look after each other.

Kind regards,
Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe.

From: Rt. Revd. Dr. Kenneth Kearon, Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe,                                                                                        Kilbane House, Golf Links Road, Castletroy, Co. Limerick. V94 X0EF. Telephone  061 333635.