DIVINE MERCY NOVENA: The Mass from Abbeyfeale on Mercy Sunday, April 19 will take place at 12 noon. It will be broadcast on church services tv/church/Ireland/Abbeyfeale.

GOOD FRIDAY SERMON: All the great plans we had for our Holy Week ceremonies here in Abbeyfeale came to a stop when the first restrictions were put in place by the government and HSE. Since then our lives have changed beyond our imagining. At a special Prayer Service in Rome, Pope Francis said, a “thick darkness has gathered over us; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by.” We have seen everything that was certain and familiar, slip away very quickly from us. This Good Friday, we are living out the Passion in our lives and in our community, rather than celebrating the Good Friday ceremonies in our local churches, through word, drama and music.

Reflection by Fr Michael Murphy Archdiocese of Tuam

The following reflection is by Fr Michael Murphy, Parish Priest of Hollymount, Co. Mayo. We have his permission to use it today. Fr Michael begins his reflection on the current situation. “We have been condemned not by Pontius Pilate, but by the coronavirus. We have been handed our cross and it is not too much different from Jesus’ cross. The cross of fear and doubt, isolation and illness, pain and possibly bereavement and loss. No doubt there will be times when we will fall, at least three times, please God we will get up again and carry on, no matter how hard it will be. And if we are to believe what we are being told by the experts, there will be sorrowful moments as well, like when Jesus met his mother Mary. We too worry for our parents and our grandparents and for all vulnerable people. And then in our community we are blessed to have people like Veronica who wiped the face of Jesus. Like our community nurses, our doctors. All the wonderful home help people we have in our community. And all the wonderful people who look in on their neighbours. As well as these people who go to work in our hospitals, medical centre and other places. People who give of themselves so generously to others, while often sacrificing their family time, putting their own health at risk. Then there are people like Simon of Cyrene, people who are asking how can we help? We’re here and we want to help. Like the soldiers who accompanied Jesus to Calvary, we need to figure out how to help those who carry crosses of fear, doubt and self-isolation and vulnerability and illness, suffering and bereavement. There are other Simon’s too, who keep the emergency services going, serving in our shops, minding our children and who keep the economy going, and so on, often at risk to their own health too. Then there are people like the women of Jerusalem, people who are there to support and comfort, people who will pick up the phone and listen to people’s worries, and even cry with those who are carrying their Cross, but above all to pray with everybody as we need the strength of prayer to carry us through. Then we remember that Jesus was stripped of his dignity and nailed to the Cross. We need to be there as well for those who feel naked and hurt, naked because they will feel ashamed that they picked up the virus. Hurt because people may nail them to a cross by blaming them for passing it on, even if they didn’t intend to do so. There is sure to be a lot of anger around, as people come to terms with the changes in their lives and we will need to be there for those people too. There will be good thieves and bad thieves. Good thieves who realise the error of their ways and ask for forgiveness and bad thieves who even in the midst of a pandemic and the biggest crises to hit our world in years, in the midst of great illness, isolation and death, will still only be able to think of themselves, even look for selfish gain out of a desperate situation. And then there is death. Great darkness, sadness, gloom, even despair, and who will take them down from the cross? Who will bury them? Will we be able to have a funeral. Will we be even allowed to hold each other? Or will we be in too much danger of picking the virus up ourselves. So many questions, so much confusion and so few answers. Yet the only answer that is important is the message of Easter. For years we have been celebrating it in our churches. Maybe we didn’t fully understand the meaning of it. Light will overcome the darkness. Hope will overcome despair. Life will overcome death. Community will bring us all together and bring us all through it. The love of God our Father, the sacrifice of Jesus our brother and the living breath of the Holy Spirit within us will bring us all through it. Just like the generations before us, who came through famine, plagues, pillage, penal laws and wars, so will we. We won’t know the strength of our community, until we are put to the test. Irish people have never been found wanting when it comes to generosity and self – sacrifice and loyalty and care and toughness and love, it’s in our DNA, it’s in our bones. It comes down through the generations, I think of the Patrick’s and the Bridget’s, right down to today. This Holy Week, this Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday. We won’t be acting it out in a ceremony, no! Instead we will be living it out. It’s ironic that we are not in our churches this Holy Week and Easter, like in penal times, but for different reasons, but it won’t change our spirit. So on this Good Friday, we ask God for the courage and the strength, for the generosity and the love, to be a truly Christlike Christian Community in action this Holy Week, this Easter time. We are being put to the test; we are living the passion of Christ.”

MESSAGE FOR THOSE WHO ARE COCOONING; I was contacted during the week by a concerned local who saw an elderly couple shopping in SuperValue recently despite being supposed to stay at home and cocoon. She discovered that they had no family living locally and that they felt they had to come to town for their shopping themselves. Please be assured that no elderly person should feel they have to leave the safety of their home because we have loads of volunteers here in Abbeyfeale who will bring them their messages whether groceries or medicines. So, if you are living alone and need assistance or advice phone one of Abbeyfeale Community Council Helpline Numbers any day 9-5pm on 068 31169, 068 32080 or 087 7571144. The Gardai are also available on 06830010 and they too will pick up medicines, messages etc.

ABBEYFEALE COMMUNITY ALERT: Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds every time you leave the house, re-enter the house, do the shopping, unpack the shopping and any time you think you should. There is a really dirty cruel horrible scam on the go these days where the crooks send out a text stating that they are the HSE: “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID -19 and recommends you self – isolate/get tested. More at COVID – 19 anon.com/alert. IGNORE Do not click on the link, they can steal your credit card and personal details in seconds. This is not how you will be contacted if you have been in contact with someone. Remember that all the shops have designated times in the early morning for shopping for the elderly.. If you need shopping or messages, contact the local committee who have been set up by Abbeyfeale Community Council on 068 31169/068 32080/ 087 7571144 any day between 9-5pm. The Gardai are also available to help vulnerable people and will call to people, collect shopping or medicines so if you want help ring them. Do also ring Abbeyfeale Gardai on 068 30010 (Three hundred ten) if you have concerns over callers/ travelling salesmen, if the phone is unattended the call will be answered in NCW and the local squad car will be notified. Don’t entertain callers offering to do jobs around the house. When you reach the age of 65 and live alone or with a person/s aged over 65 you are entitled to receive a monitored alarm system. But if you have younger people living in the house who are out for long periods of the day then, because you are spending hours alone you are also entitled to the system provided that you are over 65. The free equipment is provided by Pobal following an application from Abbeyfeale Community Alert, there will be a monitoring fee to be paid from the second year of installation to the installing company of €72. I have not included the phone numbers of the committee in this notice but if you want to get a panic button then ring Abbeyfeale Garda Station on 068 30010 and they will contact one of us. Should you not have a landline the installing company Task provide a sim card at a rate of €7.50 per month payable from day one. Then, in year two you will also receive a bill for the monitoring fee so in year one the bill will be €90 and in year two and every other year after it will €162 approx. Committee members are Michael O’Kelly N.T., Seamus Stack, Mossie Gleeson, Kathleen Collins, Mary McArthur, John O’Sullivan, Billy Quirke N.T., Cllr. Francis Foley, Catherine Daly, Marian Harnett.

HELPLINES: Men suffering domestic abuse, operates 36 hours a week on 1800816588. 24 hour helplines for women suffering domestic abuse 1800 341900 or Adapt 1800 200504. Limerick Social Services: 061-314111. AA 061/311222 Al-Anon 086/8143425. Parent Support worker 068/31019. Accord NCW 069/61000. Samaritans Freephone 116123 or text 087/2609090 or email jo Aware (Depression & Anxiety) 1980 303 302 National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House) 1800 247 247 Irish Advocacy Network (Peer advocacy in mental health) 01 872 8684 Pieta House (Suicide & self-harm) 01 623 5606 IACP (Counselling & Psychotherapy) 01 230 3536 Shine: (Supporting people affected by mental ill health) 01 860 1620 061 – 412111 or Free phone 1850609090 A.A. 061-311222. Al-Anon 086-8143425 Bereavement Support: 068 / 31203 068/ 31262 068/51984 St Vincent De Paul Tel 087/1213560 . Counselling Appointment 061/314213. ALONE; has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Professional staff are available to answer queries and give advice and reassurance where necessary. The support line is open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024. Hours may be extended to meet the demand.

CHURCH SERVICES: Mass is being celebrated every day in the Church of the Assumption and broadcast on churchservices.tv and Monday to Friday, the Stations of the Cross are also being broadcast at 3pm. RTÉ will air Mass every weekday at 10.30am from St. Eunan’s and St. Columba’s Cathedral, on RTÉ News Now. West Limerick 102fm will broadcast Mass on Sunday morning from Abbeyfeale at 10am. Radio Kerry will also broadcast Mass on Sunday morning during the Horizons religious programme at 9am (Mass will be at 9.30am). On Sunday mornings RTE 1 broadcast either Mass or Christian worship prayer at 11am . If you have Sky or one of the other TV packages, check out EWTN Catholic religious station for broadcast Masses and prayers. On the RTE Saorview channels, if you keep moving up through the tv channels you get to the radio channels coming through the TV, and on them there is Saroview channel 210 that broadcasts Radio Maria Ireland – a lovely station of Mass, Rosary, prayers and conversations on religious topics.