Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has invited all parishes in the diocese to reflect in the month of September on how the parish can be supported to be more welcoming to those who are slower to return to regular worship. Bishop Nulty extended the invitation while speaking at Mass in Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge on Sunday 22 August.
Bishop Nulty said, “I, like others, am somewhat concerned that there are people who haven’t returned to Sunday worship not really because of a fear around the pandemic but because Mass has simply slipped off their radar. When a prudent decision was made at the beginning of this pandemic to remove the Sunday obligation, it gave permission in some ways for these people to stop attending and other attractions such as hill walking, golf, cycling, or simply staying in bed longer, has become the order of their Sunday morning. There is no anger there, no walking away, just slipping out of the habit and when we do, it’s hard to reintroduce a practice, simply put it’s hard to start going again.
“The solution is not in my opinion to reintroduce the obligation. That would be a missed opportunity. We must teach people why Sunday is so special that they will want to go to Mass rather than feel compelled to attend Mass. People need to be reminded that a Sunday without giving God time is a Sunday less well spent. However it is up to our parish councils, liturgy teams, our priests and faithfilled parishioners who have returned to reflect on how we might reintroduce Mass gently into the lives of these good people – our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our grandchildren, our friends.”
Bishop Nulty continued, “Mass on Sunday is a way of affirming that life has meaning and no matter what we’re struggling through, we have value before God. During the depths of the pandemic when we had no public worship, there was much talk about Eucharistic starvation, as if the Eucharist was a prize to be possessed rather than a missionary mandate to go out from Mass and heal the sick, bandgage the wounded, welcome the stranger.
“We have met the Lord in our little domestic churches; we come to church on Sunday, in that knowledge that we can meet Him at home, but in church we meet with and are supported by a faithfilled people. In receving Eucharist we become His body – we become what we receive. When there are some people missing, that body is incomplete.”
Concluding his homily, Bishop Nulty said that the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin has a long tradition of ‘reaching out’ and has invited people to write to him directly with their thoughts and ideas.
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