Covid-19 health emergency may bring people back to the Church - Fr Paul Dempsey

Senan Hogan

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Senan Hogan

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news@leinsterleader.ie

INTERVIEW: Kildare’s Fr Paul Dempsey, the new Bishop of Achonry, on his new job, celibacy and women in the church

Fr Paul Dempsey pictured in Newbridge Parish Church. Picture: Tony Keane

Parish Priest of Newbridge Fr Paul Dempsey believes that the current Covid-19 health crisis may see people return to attending Church again. 

Fr Paul said hundreds of people have been viewing Mass from churches via webcams and Facebook since restrictions were placed on indoor gatherings and parishes had to hold ceremonies behind closed doors. 

Fr Paul said: "People are tuning into Mass every week from their kitchens, bedrooms, back gardens. The Church is about community and the Church is reaching out even if people can't come to Mass.
"The ringing of church bells on St Patrick's Day touched a chord with people too because it was symbolic gesture everybody could relate to.

Fr Paul urged people to strictly follow the guidelines of hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette and social distancing. He added: "Families are adjusting to new restrictions and they're very challenging in terms of how we live at the moment. 
He acknowledged that that family events such as Confirmations, Communions and weddings have been postponed while funerals have difficult restrictions on them. 

He added: "This situation has shown us what life is about - and that's family, parish, community and reaching out to each other. 
"We need to look after those who are vulnerable in our families and our community. "St Therese has a lovely simply saying:  'All will be well' and I remember that at this time." 

"A lot of what is happening may be frightening, but we all must try to keep a sense of perspective. "If we get the virus there is a very good chance we will get well again. 

"We must stay away from misinformation and not share it with others. We must take a break from the news and look after our mental health." 

"It shows us that life is precious and it's a gift from God and we must treasure that gift."

Fr Paul's ordination as the Bishop of Achonry has been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak and he will continue in his role as Newbridge Parish Priest for a few more weeks.