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An Irish blessing in the time of pandemic


Knock Shrine | Facebook | Fair Use

John Burger - published on 04/29/20

Rector of the shrine of Knock goes house to house to bring hope to stranded Catholics.

People are not able to gather in large numbers in church. But in at least one part of Ireland, a priest is going out to see the people.

Fr. Richard Gibbons, the rector of Knock Shrine in Mayo, Ireland’s national Marian shrine, spent three-and-a-half days traveling the local area to offer blessings.

“Equipped with copious amounts of holy water, a Bible and his white cassock, Fr. Gibbons visited some 58 townlands between Tuesday and Friday of last week,” reported the Irish Post. “Eager to offer some support and solace to the many believers unable to attend church under the current government lockdown restrictions, Fr. Gibbons had originally intended to bless the holy water fonts located in the parish.”

But he began to notice that wherever he went local people would come to their windows or doors.

“After blessing a few of the houses on his route, word began to get round, prompting Fr. Gibbons to embark on a systematic blessing of the entire region,” the Post said. He estimated that he blessed 1,000 homes in the end.

“The main idea was to help the people understand that we haven’t forgotten them and [we knew] that they’d like to see me in person as well,” he said. “I blessed every single house, but if I saw somebody outside of the house or near it or farmers in their land I’d talk to them and just say hello and ask them how they were doing and that kind of thing.”

Said Fr. Gibbons, “Even with the social distancing there’s nothing to beat a face to face or a person to person connection and they really do appreciate it.”

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