PARISHIONERS in west Dublin have been left devastated after Gardaí put a stop to priests administering Holy Communion from the side door of their local church.
Officers called to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Huntstown, Dublin 15 and halted the practice because they said it constituted “an organised event”.
Parishioner Philip Brennan, from Blanchardstown, told Dublin Gazette: “We would get mass via the webcam and go up to the church afterwards. There was no congregating and it was all very safe.
“I’m in my 70s and it has great spiritual meaning for me. I was angry that this was taken away.”
Fr Binoy Mathews added: “It was our way of keeping in touch with parishioners and it was very important for some people during these difficult times.”
The Garda press office said it could not comment and directed us to the Covid-19 regulations as set out by the HSE and Department of Health.
While they ban gatherings under Level 5 there are no specific rules in relation to administering the Eucharist.
Mr Brennan said: “The way they worked it you would go up to the porch of the church and receive Holy Communion. The priest would hand it to you with gloves on and he would be wearing a face mask.
“We’re not dealing with a loaf of bread here. It’s the body and blood of Christ. You would go out the other door so people were not crossing each other’s path.
“There was no congregating outside afterwards. Mostly you are talking about families going up together. It was a gift from God that started in the first lockdown.
“What makes it even harder to accept is walking up to the church we pass Millennium Park and the playground is packed with hundreds of people. Every morning the place is packed.
“You can imagine the frustration – because it is a spiritual thing and it is comforting.”
Fr Mathews said he was hoping to reach a compromise with local Gardai to allow for the Eucharist to be given out over a longer period of time on Sundays.
He added: “This is a small group of people. We talk about mental health – this is a way for them to stay sane during the lockdown and to feel connected.
“When you look at the parks, they are thronged. The shops are packed, you can get a takeaway coffee without wearing a mask. Surely we can reach a compromise?”