From Monday morning, September 6th, we can increase the number of people in the church to one half the normal capacity, which will be roughly 120 persons.
This means that from next weekend, it will no longer be necessary to book in advance for the Sunday 11 o’clock Mass.
Following public health advice, we will continue to sanitise the church, sanitise our hands and wear face masks when inside the church, and keep other habits of care for one another that we have acquired over the past year and a half.
We return to congregations at Mass, with certain restrictions and limited numbers, on Monday May 10th.
Weekday morning Masses are at 8.30 and 11.00.
Weekend Masses are: Vigil, Saturday at 6.30, Sunday morning 11.00, and Sunday evening at 6.30.
Because of the limit on numbers allowed, it is necessary to book in advance for the Sunday morning Mass.
Booking for Sunday the 16th begins on Monday 10th at 10am, telephone 091 562524. All are asked to wear face coverings.
Tarsus Scripture School was founded in 2020 by Jessie Rogers, Sean Goan and Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA to understand the role of the Bible in our life of faith from within the tradition of Catholic Biblical scholarship.
For Pentecost three pre-recorded lectures will be available online from Friday 7th May.
Get full details and register at https://www.tarsusscriptureschool.ie/
As you have seen from the Update item of April 11th (below) the Irish Bishops have declared a "Synodal Pathway" of five years, leading up to a Synod of the Irish Church. They have invited everyone to make a submission on how they would wish to participate in this Path, and, as a result of the submissions, further planning will take place on how various groups and individuals will take part in the process.
In this first phase, they are not asking us to suggest topics or themes, but to give our preferred method or forum in which to participate. You will see a box on-screen to give your submission on this initial question in not more than 300 words. We have until Pentecost to click on the link and make this initial submission.
To exercise your opportunity to make a submission, click on this link www.catholicbishops.ie/synod/submissions/ This will bring you to:
"Initial Submissions Easter to Pentecost 2021
Before embarking on the Synodal Pathway consultation, between Easter (5 April) and Pentecost (23 May), 2021, bishops are inviting submissions to reflect on what methods/models to adopt in these coming two years of conversations. For example: focus groups, questionnaires, deep-listening sessions; written submissions; family-focused gatherings; summary of findings of assemblies that have already taken place across dioceses; and/or conferences.
These submissions, in not more than 300 words, are not yet about the themes for the Synod but rather how to go about this phase of setting up the initial conversations.
Question: What would be your preferred option for engagement in a conversation process about the Synod?"
Before embarking on the Synodal Pathway consultation, bishops are inviting submissions to reflect on what methods/models to adopt in these coming two years of conversations.
Feedback, which should be no more than 300 words and submitted by Pentecost Sunday 23 May 2021, ought to focus on the nature of the process for the consultation.
Submissions can be made on www.catholicbishops.ie/synod
We will be live streaming ceremonies on Good Friday and Easter Sunday
Here are some other sources for ceremonies broadcast and online
Holy Thursday 4:40pm Mass for the Lord's Supper
Good Friday 3pm Solemn Liturgy from Knock
Holy Saturday 10:40pm Easter Vigil Mass from Knock
Holy Thursday 8pm
Good Friday 3pm
Holy Saturday Vigil 9pm
Ecumenical Journey Through Holy Week
There will be a short zoom service every evening through Holy Week at 7.30pm and at 12 noon on Good Friday.
Full details are available here on Facebook
Zoom links are available from our office
We would like to draw to your attention the recent Statement of the Spring 2021 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference
The main issues discussed by the bishops during their Spring General Meeting included:
The Mass Card Office is closed, but we are still working inside.
Please note that we are no longer able to facilitate Click and Collect
However Mass Cards are still available by post - phone 091 562524, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Payment by Card would be much appreciated, where possible.
We had just got back into the rhythm of Masses with the restricted congregation, and bookings for Sundays when here we are, closed down again.
Our Christmas programme went more or less as planned. About sixty people attended our Penitential Services. Very few people were disappointed in not being able to attend the Christmas Mass of their choice. Tremendous work, again, on the part of the team of volunteers, ushers, readers, musicians, Eucharistic ministers, camera technician, ensured that all went smoothly. Once again, our profound gratitude to all who have made it possible.
And now as we face into the New Year we are in Level 5, the full works. The Church is open daily from 9 to 5. The Church Office is classified as "nonessential retail", so is closed. The business of the office can be conducted by phone, 091 562524, preferably between 11am and 1pm and 2pm and 4pm. We will continue to stream the Sunday Mass at 11 o'clock, with the link on the website.
The situation is serious. This awful virus is, hopefully, delivering its last dying sting before we are all vaccinated and will be able to look at one another full in the face again. We are all in it together, without exception. The Augustinians wish you all a peaceful and healthy year.
Weekend Masses in the Augustinian Church are:
Saturday evening Vigil at 6.30, Sunday morning at 11.00 and Sunday evening at 6.30.
These Masses have to be pre-booked, telephone number 091 562524.
The same pattern is appearing as before the October lockdown. There is pressure on the Sunday morning Mass, and people have even been turned away.
There is no pressure on the two evening Masses, so if it is convenient, these might be preferable options.
Really, it means that from next Tuesday, December 1st, we are back to where we were.
We will have weekday Masses at 8.30 and 11.00.
Weekends: Vigil on Saturday evening at 6.30, Sunday 11 am and 6.30pm. It is necessary to book a place for the weekend Masses. Booking is by phone, 091 562524 between 10am and 4pm, starting next Tuesday.
You are asked to wear a mask and follow the stewards' instructions.
From Tuesday morning, the Church Office will be open from 9.30 to 4.30.
At this time of year we usually have an Ecumenical Service of Remembrance with the St. Nicholas Collegiate Church community. Since that is not possible this year, we will be remembering all those who have died during the past year at next Sunday's 11 o'clock Mass. If you wish to have someone who has died in the past year prayed for, please send their name and the date of their death to us before the weekend. Email is email@example.com.
This year we cannot distribute the lists and envelopes in the usual way. So, if you wish to participate, you write the names of the departed whom you wish to be remembered on a list. Put it in an envelope, with or without an offering.
Then you can
(a) leave it in one of the collection boxes at the end of the church, or
(b) place it in our letterbox on St. Augustine Street, or
(c) post it to us.
See our 'Contact' page for address details
The lists will be placed on the altar for the month of November.
We at the Augustinian have lost a good friend with the death of Mercy Sister Majella O'Keeffe, who died this (Wednesday) morning in St. Mary's Nursing Home.
A native of Limerick, she followed her older sister and entered the Mercy Convent in Loughrea. There she spent her working life, renowned as a great teacher, especially of Art. She had a huge following of admiring and devoted past pupils. Those were the days when after a full day's work teaching, a nun would sometimes spend the night looking after the little ones in the orphanage, to give the sister in charge the chance of a night's rest. Why did they do it? Because that's what sisters did!
When the Convent in Loughrea closed Sr. Majella moved to Galway and worked for a time as Archivist for the Mercy Congregation. She developed an attachment to the Augustinian where she was a faithful presence every Wednesday morning for the devotion to the Mother of Good Counsel and Saturday evening Mass, when she presided at the "little organ".
She was an internationally renowned iconographer; some lucky people have icons written by her and treasured. A fact known to very few, she played a hidden but significant part at the beginning of the Peace Process that led to the Belfast Agreement.
To her brother Frank and her family and the Mercy Sisters we offer our sincere sympathy.
Go ndéana Dia Trócaire ar a hanam dílis.
So, here we are, back to where we were before the resumption of public Masses at the end of June. The church is open from 9 am to 5 pm for private visits. The Augustinian community celebrate Mass, remembering all requested intentions, behind the closed doors.
Yesterday morning, Sunday, we resumed streaming the 11 o'clock, with the assistance of Cormac Staunton of Staunton Media. He and Peter Cunnane are working on a system that will operate for the long haul. The Mass is accessed through the homepage of this website, augustinians.ie/galway.
The Church office is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. We now have the facility to take payment by credit card, so this should greatly facilitate ordering mass cards by phone. The number of the office is 091 562524.
With so much bad news filling our days, it is great to have something good to celebrate.
John Coyle has been honoured with an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
The award is in recognition of John's dedication for many years to the RNLI, which has done so much for saving of lives at sea throughout the whole island of Ireland.
John has been part of many projects for the promotion of the business and cultural life of the city. With his wife, Sally and his family, he has been a lifelong supportive member of the Augustinian parish.
During the Augustinian Project that brought us into the 21st century, John was an active member of the Finance Committee.
Ad multos annos!
When the Government gave the go-ahead for the holding of public services in churches our handbook of instructions for the ordering and maintenance of the church in the new situation was a thirty-page document issued by the bishops of the Western Province called "Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God".
The first instruction in that document was: "Establish, in consultation with your Parish Pastoral Council, a support team of parishioners and staff, who would be able to implement the Diocesan plan in the particular circumstances of your parish." (Page 4) This support group was set up.
The group met to plan every aspect necessary for the return to celebration of Mass. It has met a number of times since to review and adjust what we are doing. It met most recently on Wednesday, August 12th. Present were: Ann Campbell (Chair and "worker/workplace representative"), Patricia Cassidy, Peter Cunnane, Frank Duddy, Anthony Finn OSA, Des Foley OSA, Sean MacGearailt OSA
Many of the points discussed involved tweaking certain practices for priests, Eucharistic ministers and stewards. The points most worthy of note for people coming to the church were:
It was noted that some favourable comments have been made on the presentation and organisation of the church for the present circumstances. And it must also be said that the whole operation is possible because of the generous commitment of the Support Group, Eucharistic Ministers, Readers and Stewards without whom it would all be impossible. The laity are finally coming into their own. Yippeee!
Yesterday's decision by the Government not to implement the next phase of the reopening of the country doesn't directly affect the operation of churches, but obviously there is an air of uncertainty regarding the virus in the last few days that was not there before. And regarding the future.
The numbers of people attending the church have almost stabilised, subject, as always, to the weather (known unknown). Weekdays, 8.30 usually has 30+, and 11.am 50. Last Saturday the 11.00 Mass was full, and that's a new development (unknown unknown). The Saturday evening Vigil 42, the Sunday morning 11 am was 52, down a little (unknown unknown), and the Sunday evening only 22. We will continue with the booking system for a while longer, but at least for Sunday evening it is really not necessary.
Yesterday, Tuesday evening, feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, was the Mass of the Chrism in the Cathedral. This usually takes place on Holy Thursday and is the day when the Holy Oils are consecrated and the institution of the Priesthood celebrated. Of course it couldn't be held this year on Holy Thursday. Each Parish of the diocese is represented at this celebration, and we were represented by Ann Campbell of the Steering Committee, Frank Duddy of the Covid-19 committee and the PP.
Last Sunday we had to turn people away from the 11 am Mass, as we were full. The Mass had not been fully booked beforehand, and some people could be allowed in who had not booked in advance, but a small number could not be allowed in. On the other hand, neither the Saturday evening vigil Mass, nor the Sunday evening 6.30 Mass were anything like full. And this seems to be the pattern that is emerging: the Sunday morning Mass is a pressure point but the evening Masses have many empty places.
So, could some people re-think their weekend schedule and try to move from Sunday morning to one of the evening Masses? The Saturday evening now has Ramin at the organ with Ger Finnerty singing, very like the music at the Sunday morning. The Sunday evening remains, at least for the moment, a plain, low Mass. Think about it.
We usually have music at the 11 o'clock Mass on Wednesday, in honour of the Mother of Good Counsel, with Eddie Cassidy on the small organ. Because of the current ban on singing, this morning we hummed along instead of singing. It just might catch on!
Very little booking for Saturday evening 6,30, except about 20 people for Paddy Murphy's Month's Mind
As of this Thursday evening, the booking for Sunday at 11 am is 23 and for Sunday evening 6,30 is 3.
Out of a total capacity of 70.
We have now completed three weekends under this strange Covid regime.
The figures for this weekend were: Saturday evening, 40; Sunday 11 am, 54; Sunday 6.30 pm, 22.
The number for Sunday morning was down, compared to the previous Sunday when more people came than could be accommodated. The Abbey resumed public Masses this morning, and that may take some of our congregation.
This morning (Monday) the numbers were: 8.30 am, 33; 11 am, 44. So no pressure there.
As of this evening, there are 8 bookings for next Sunday's 11 am Mass.
The arrival of some new Eucharistic Ministers is most welcome.
It cannot be repeated too often: the contribution of the team of Eucharistic Ministers, Readers and Stewards is central and indispensable to the whole operation. We cannot thank them enough.
When the Government gave the go-ahead for the public celebration of religious services, the bishops of the Western Province provided a thirty page document of guidelines entitled, "Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God". It contained instructions on church cleaning, signage, seating organisation, celebration of Mass and sacraments, policy statements, volunteers. Really it was an application to our situation of the Government's Return to Work Safely Protocol. The first recommendation was the setting up of a dedicated committee to oversee the new situation and organise the training of volunteers for the new situation.
Our special COVID-19 Commiittee immediately got to work. Its members are: Ann Campbell, Patricia Cassidy, Peter Cunnane, Frank Duddy, Anthony Finn OSA, Des Foley OSA, Sean Mac Gearailt OSA. The result of its many meetings is the system which is now running - awaiting, of course, the next change of regulations. Measured in accordance with the two metre physical distancing rule, we have the capacity for 64 people (plus a few extra when family groups are present). Because of sanitising requirements all our chairs had to be removed, and replaced with un-upholstered chairs. The church is divided into two "pods", separated by an invisible white line which runs straight down the middle of the church, separating those on the right from those on the left. This line should never be crossed. The new ministry of stewards/ushers is established, to see that people get safely to their place without infringing on the required space of others. There is no sharing of microphones, missals or lectionaries. Singing is brutally curtailed. (Imagine: "Please all don't join in the first hymn…!").
There is now a pattern emerging. The numbers at the weekday Masses are increasing, but there is no fear of us reaching the maximum number. The Sunday 11 o'clock Mass has been fully booked for the last two weeks, while there have been many empty places at both the Saturday evening and Sunday evening.
At a meeting of the Covid Committee this morning (Friday) it was decided to keep the booking system for weekend Masses in place for the time being. When people are booking, they will be asked: 1.) To arrive early and 2.) If for any reason they find they cannot come, to cancel their booking so that someone else can have their place.
There is a system in place. In many ways it is weird, surreal. But it's a step nearer to what we all would like. Let's hope that it won't be there long enough for us to get used to it.
11 o'clock, 55 people; 6.30, 23 people.
So, we've completed our first whole week. And though it's too early to discern a fixed pattern, we can benefit from looking at what has happened over the week.
There was no pressure at all on the weekday 8.30 Mass, so if you are planning to come to that Mass, you are sure to get in. The 11 o'clock weekday Mass had more people, but was short of the maximum of 50, except one morning, Thursday. Since Friday last the maximum allowed has increased to 63 for our church, so there is the likelihood that you will get in to the 11 also, at least for the time being. The Saturday evening and Sunday evening had very few attending. It is unlikely there will be any pressure on either of these.
The Sunday morning was fully booked and after the number was increased on Friday we took some late bookings.
In the light of all this, we will continue for the time being to operate booking for the three weekend Masses. The one most likely to be booked out is the eleven o'clock on Sunday, as expected.
8.30 Mass: 31 people; 11.00 Mass: 37 people and 6.30 pm Vigil Mass: 40 people.
Tomorrow morning's 11.00 Mass is fully booked out, and there are plenty places for tomorrow's 6.30 pm.
So far the numbers have been relatively small, with only one Mass, Thursday at 11, reaching the maximum number.
about changes to the rules for the churches changed from a blanket maximum number to measurement of physical distancing. This means that our number of seats goes up by 13. They also introduced a "pod" system. The pod system means that you come in by either the right or left side door, you remain on whatever side you came in, and you go out by the same door. We'll get used to it, and when we do it will change to something else...
8.30 Mass : 28 people present
11.00 Mass: 40 people present.
The Sunday 11.00 Mass is booked out. There are still a number of places available at both the Saturday evening 6.30 and Sunday evening 6.30.
There were 23 people at the 8.30 Mass and 50 at the 11.00 this morning.
The 11.00 Mass on Sunday morning is fully booked. There are still a good number of places available at the Saturday evening 6.30 and Sunday evening 6.30.
There were 20 people at 8.30 Mass and 42 at the 11 o'clock.
The Sunday morning 11 o'clock Mass is booked out. Booking on the Saturday 6.30 and Sunday 6.30 is slow, with about 40 places still free at both.
There were 31 people at the 8.30 and 44 at the 11.00 this morning. These figures include the team of celebrant and assistants. Everything was calm, unfussy and prayerful. While it is too early to see a certain pattern, it is likely that as we assess the situation at the end of the week we will be able to reduce the number of stewards.
The booking for the weekend Masses was very slow today. There remain 3 places for the 11.00, and 45 places for both the vigil and the Sunday evening.
Publican and Christian gentleman, Paddy was one of the most regular worshippers ever seen in the Augustinian: 8.30 on weekday mornings, and 6.30 on Saturday evening. His funeral Mass will be tomorrow at 1 o'clock, with the number attending limited to 50. Our sincere sympathy to his wife Eileen and their family.
Along with churches throughout the land, with some apprehension we opened our doors this morning at 8.15, for 8.30 Mass. Our team of ushers were ready and armed, with high-viz jackets, visors and masks. A small group was already waiting. In all we had 25 people, not counting the team of six. People got seated in their spaced-out chairs without rush or fuss. The appearance of the church is strange, but it was a great step towards better days.
There were 31 people at the eleven o'clock Mass, along with five helpers.
Enormous thanks to the ushers, readers and Eucharistic ministers who make the whole adventure possible.
At 11 o'clock we were visited by a photographer from the Galway Advertiser who got permission from the worshippers to take some pictures. We were also visited by the Town Crier with his bell, announcing the re-opening of the churches.
At present (after close of Monday) there are only four places left for next Sunday's 11 o'clock Mass. For the Saturday vigil and the Sunday 6.30 there are still about 40 each.
The limit of 50 people allowed at Mass has been confirmed for the time being.
Since we do not want to have to turn people away at the door, it will be necessary to book your place at any of the three weekend Masses (Saturday evening vigil, Sunday morning 11.00 and Sunday evening 6.30).
Booking will be at the Church Office, telephone 091 562524, from 10 am to 4 pm (Mon-Sat).
We start on Monday morning with 8.30 Mass. No booking is required for weekdays, at least for the moment.
You are asked to wear a mask. The toilets will be closed.
As we approach the next phase in the re-opening of society and the church, we are preparing for the resumption of public Masses in the Church on Monday June 29th.
For the moment the number of 50 announced by the Government for any one service holds. There is an expectation that it will increase, but how it will affect us is something we don't know.
Because of the requirement that the church be sanitised after every Mass, we will be obliged to reduce the number of Masses on weekdays. There will be no 10.00 Mass, just 8.30 and 11.00.
We will continue with the regular schedule: Vigil on Saturday evening at 6.30, Sunday morning 11.00 and Sunday evening 6.30. Because of the very limited number (50 including priest and all assistants) it will be necessary to book your place in advance. We will give further instructions on this nearer to the time.
The last of our streamed Masses will be Sunday June 28th. This service was made possible because of a generous offer by Cormac Staunton (son of Michael and Brid) of Staunton Media. Cormac offered to stream our Sunday Mass for the duration of the church being closed. On behalf of all who benefited from this generous gift we offer our deepest gratitude to Cormac and wish him and his family well.
The Augustinian Community would like to acknowledge the many people who sent in weekly envelopes, Easter Dues and other donations during the period of the lockdown. Your thoughtfulness and generosity was way above the call of duty and is remembered with gratitude and appreciation.