A parish priest today defended celebrating regular Sunday morning Masses during Covid-19 lockdown, saying that no person has got Covid-19 from attending his Masses.
Fr Willie Cummins, parish priest of Ennistymon, was speaking on Sunday after 48 Mass goers attended 11am Mass at the local Catholic church in the north Clare town.
At the end of today’s Mass, Fr Cummins said from the altar: “Thank you all for coming and, with the help of God, there will be even more next Sunday.”
From Monday, priests can celebrate Masses with 50 people; however, during the Covid level 5 lockdown, it has been a criminal offence to attend public Mass, other than funerals and weddings.
“There hasn’t been one person who has got Covid from being in there,” said Fr Cummins, outside the church after Mass ended on Sunday.
Asked how many Sundays he has celebrated Mass during the current lockdown, Fr Cummins said: “The whole time.”
Asked was 50 the average attendance at his 11am Mass on a Sunday, he replied: “There would often be some more.”
Asked was he worried about a backlash against celebrating the Masses, Fr Cummins said: “Not a bit of it. I am not doing anything wrong.”
Fr Cummins said that the people attending his Mass “haven’t been put at risk”.
“Look at the size of the church. It is all sanitised and the doors are left open all day.”
During Mass on Sunday in the large church, there was one person in each row separated by two rows to the next person with the vast majority of Mass goers masked.
“I wouldn’t do it if I was causing trouble,” he said. “A packed church wouldn’t happen and that wouldn’t be right.”
On his way from the church to deliver Communion to parishioners unable to attend Mass, Fr Cummins said, “look at the size and the height of the church here”.
“Go to Lahinch and see the crowds there at the weekends and, from Thursday evening on, every second car going there is a D reg.”
Asked if the gardaí have been in touch concerning the Sunday morning Masses, Fr Cummins replied: “No, the gardaí are very understanding people.”
Asked if he had informed his bishop (Bishop of Galway, Brendan Kelly) of the Sunday Masses, Fr Cummins replied: “Someone else told him.”
An Ennis man who is a regular at 11am Mass at Ennistymon church during the lockdown said: “Fr Willie is doing what he should be doing as a priest.” He said that attending Sunday Mass in Ennistymon “is absolutely safe”.
Speaking outside the church today, the Mass goer said that he has no concerns about his health in attending Mass in Ennistymon.