It is with relief and great joy that Archbishop Martin reinstated me as Administrator of Newry and Saval parishes on 24th June in Newry Cathedral. I am so pleased to be back with the parishioners and being given once more the opportunity to serve them in whatever way I can.
It has been a difficult few months for everyone with the lockdown and I know some people of the parish have lost loved ones. I extend my sincere sympathy to all parishioners who lost a loved one since I stepped aside as I was forbidden by the Church authorities to attend a wake-house in the Newry and Saval parishes. However, those families that have had a bereavement have been in my thoughts and prayers.
May I take this opportunity to extend a sincere word of thanks to those parishioners, and people outside the parish, who wrote to me, sent text messages, sent cards, sent Mass cards and who kept in touch with me in the two plus years that I have been out of ministry. They have been difficult years, but without the abundant support I received it would have been more difficult. Knowing people cared was a tremendous source of consolation to me and my family.
Now, as we move into the next phase, following the Covid 19 pandemic, Churches are opening again for the celebration of the Sacraments. I ask you to take great care to protect yourself and others, always adhering to social-distancing and following the guidelines strictly laid down for everyone’s protection. Please follow the advice of the stewards at the door of the Churches. I ask for your co-operation so that we can all be safe and protected from this dreadful disease.
Parents have not been able to have babies baptised but I will endeavour to meet the needs of those parents, so that they are able to have their children baptised. Please contact the Parish Office so that arrangements can be made.
The past three months have been difficult for all schools. I pay tribute to the schools of the parish for the work they have done for their pupils. Sadly, for the Primary Schools the programme for the celebration of the sacraments has been disrupted. However, the Archbishop asked to have the Confirmation ceremonies in the second half of the month of August at a time that is convenient for the schools. By the same token, First Holy Communion will be celebrated in the new term once the teachers have had an opportunity to revise the work with the children.
During the next few months we will work together as we recover from the lockdown and attempt to restore parish and community life. The lockdown has made us very aware of the significance and value of community life and the value of belonging to a caring community. My hope is that we will continue to build on those important qualities.
May I finish by expressing my deepest gratitude to all parishioners and to say how delighted I am to be back again in ministry, to be of service to you in whatever way I can for the next number of years.
Canon Francis Brown