Galway Cathedral, along with other churches around the diocese and across the country, will hold an online service on Sunday 1 November at 3.00pm to dedicate November as a month of prayer and remembrance for the dead and for the comfort of the bereaved. This service will be available to view and participate in via the Cathedral webcam.
A Pastoral Message from Bishop Brendan
From earliest times, the Church has honoured the memory of the dead with great respect. The month of November is set aside as a month of prayer and remembrance, particularly for those who have died during the previous year. In Ireland, we also have a wonderful tradition of attentiveness to people and families at the time of bereavement. We attend funerals in great numbers.
This November, our remembering is especially poignant. We are experiencing a period of hardship and sacrifice due to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to disrupt the lives of so many people. The virus has already taken the lives of close to 2500 people across the island of Ireland as I write (Oct. 23) – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, dear friends... and each death has brought sadness and grief to those who miss their loved ones deeply. The figures are rising daily.
In the midst of such a crisis we might overlook families whose loved ones have died recently from other illnesses or in tragic circumstances. Like the relatives of the victims of COVID-19 they too have been unable to engage fully in the customary rituals that normally mark the death of a loved one in this country. Restrictions have impacted on wakes, gatherings of extended family and friends at the funeral and in some cases, only a committal service attended by a small of mourners has been possible. During November we have another opportunity to acknowledge the pain and hurt that families have endured and to assure them of the consolation our prayer and our sympathy. As St Paul wrote to the Romans: “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ”.
Since the beginning of the pandemic we have rightly marked the personal sacrifices of our health workers, carers and many others who provide our essential services. We also recognise the dedication and service of priests, religious and lay people who selflessly reach out as hospital chaplains or in other parish ministry. Their pastoral care is bringing comfort and healing to those who are anxious because of a relative’s illness or who are feeling the loss and pain of bereavement. Their commitment and dedication is greatly appreciated.
Along with all the bishops of Ireland, I ask that we dedicate this month of November as a time of remembrance and prayer for all those who have died since this time last year, whatever the cause. Let us in this way assure people who have been bereaved this year that they are not forgotten and that their loved ones remain close in our hearts and prayers.
This pandemic, unfortunately, has not gone away and will most likely be with us for the foreseeable future. With faith, hope and love, we are called to support one another so that we will emerge stronger and more resilient from this testing time. In difficult times of the past our ancestors looked to their faith in Christ for light in the darkness, for hope against despair. We do so again, confident that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that God brings comfort to those who are anxious, healing to the sick and eternal rest and peace to the dead.
+ Brendan Kelly