Diocese of Derry


3 minutes reading time (534 words)

Statement from Bishop Donal McKeown to the Priests of the Diocese - Coronavirus


Dear Father

You will know that public health advice regarding the Coronavirus epidemic is constantly changing.

It is clear now that the virus is active all around the country. It is particularly dangerous to the old and those with certain illnesses. Thus, every effort should be made to avoid creating any situation where the virus might be transmitted.

However, at the same time, there will be an increased need to minister to people. Some will need consolation because of illness and bereavement. Others will be angry at not being able to attend Mass and other Church services. This is not a time for priests to withdraw from their exemplary pastoral service to parishioners, both regular churchgoers and others.

Because of the need to avoid gathering people together in confined spaces, I ask you to take the following steps until further notice.

  1. Churches should remain open to facilitate prayer, pastoral counselling and other Sacraments for those who wish to visit.

  2. Mass should continue to be celebrated each day in our parishes, though without a congregation

  3. Parishioners should be made aware of the time(s) when Mass is being celebrated so that that they
    a. Can follow Mass on webcam on other electronic devices, if such exists;
    b. Can make a Spiritual Communion;
    c. Know specific intentions for which a Mass is being celebrated.

  4. Masses should not be celebrated in houses or other premises.

  5. Every effort should be made to provide written or electronic prayer resources for those who cannot attend the church.

  6. Funerals can be celebrated with family members but with a number of people that is commensurate with the size of the building – and certainly not more than 100. Advice may be given by health authorities regarding funerals of those who have died from Coronavirus.

  7. Weddings can be celebrated as in 6 above.

These directions seek to balance the need to control the virus with the obligation to offer intensive pastoral and sacramental care to those who need it at this very distressing time. They are valid from midnight on March 17th.

+ Donal McKeown
Bishop of Derry
Monday, 16 March 2020

Pope Francis' Prayer to Mary during the coronavirus pandemic

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus' pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Related Information 

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Contact Info

Diocesan Offices
St Eugene’s Cathedral
Francis Street, Derry
BT48 9AP | Tel: 028 7126 2302

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