This Christmas will be like no other for everyone for several reasons, and for those looking to attend Christmas mass, there might be no room at the inn this year.
Under current Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions religious services can now be attended by 50 people, with the limit not being increased for Christmas Eve or Day mass.
Priests and parishioners alike across the country have expressed their concern about not being able to have everyone in attendance this year.
Speaking with Limerick Voice, Fr Chris O’Donnell, from the parish of Kilmallock, likened Christmas mass to comments made by Waterford Hurling manager, Liam Cahill regrading allowing limited crowds attend the All-Ireland Final.
Cahill said: “I don’t know, where do you start or who do you allow in? To be fair, our games are about community, about everybody. It’s hard enough to have restrictions.
“If you put restrictions on who you are letting in, I don’t think that’s what our games are about or the GAA is about.”
Fr Chris said: “The GAA is like us, we’re all about community. Sadly, they can only play one All-Ireland, but we will be doing our best to put on as many possibilities as we can.”
“Obviously we will follow every health guidance under the sun, and we will do that, we’re only happy to keep people safe. But we hope to minimize the disappointment, but there will be and sadly there might even be hurt for some who didn’t agree with a parishes criteria for attending.”
Fr Chris spoke about several alternate possibilities for this year’s Christmas mass including: a mass for just the bereaved people, to represent the community, a mass for all those who work in our hospitals to represent the year, some people are looking at making sure their speakers outside if people came in cars and other places you might ring in to book ahead.
Parishes across Ireland are readying their online platforms for Christmas mass, so that those not in attendance can still experience the mass.
Fr Chris said: “Talk about no room in the inn at Christmas. There physically isn’t enough room in our churches for what would normally come our way.”
He added: “We’re looking at putting an online liturgy for families, so that no matter what, families know that they can sit together and pray together and have a Christmas moment in their home. Which is how the first Christmas would have happened anyway, just amongst your family at the best of time.”