Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam

Christmas 2020 message by Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, Ireland

‘Our priests have responded very generously to the challenge of the pandemic’

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It has been a difficult time for everyone.  For bereaved families, for families with members in nursing homes and hospitals due to restricted visiting.  People who have been deprived of the opportunity to gather for the celebration of Mass have experienced a huge lacuna in their lives.  Moving towards Christmas the disappointment of family members who are unable to come home and share Christmas with us contributes to the loneliness associated with Christmas for many people.  For young people who love to gather and relate with their friends, it has been very demanding.

Likewise, for our priests – the things we need to do, would like to do and want to do – sadly we cannot do in the way in which we were accustomed and, yet, our priests have responded very generously to the challenge of the pandemic.  Here in the Archdiocese of Tuam, our priests have spared no effort in arranging Masses on the webcam and radio, providing every opportunity to address the faith and sacramental requirements of parishioners.  Our parishes have been blessed with wonderful volunteers, ushers, and other ministries taking responsibility for the cleaning and sanitizing of our churches. Parishioners have been most considerate and understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves and have been co-operating very generously and constructively in all of this.  I would like to acknowledge the positive response which is so encouraging and reassuring.

Charitable organizations like Saint Vincent de Paul and those who do such wonderful work locally and help to alleviate suffering and hardship, enabling families to have a better Christmas, find it extremely challenging.  None of us knows the different forms which poverty can take behind closed doors.  The calls made on local organizations such as Saint Vincent de Paul increase in the lead up to Christmas.  In other years these organizations depended on the generosity of the Mass-going people to rally to their support.  In view of the lockdown and restricted numbers, their resources are considerably reduced while the demands made on them continue to increase.

There is an innate generosity in people which, I believe, surfaces particularly in this season of goodwill.  Locally and at this time of year, as a people, we respond majestically to this challenge. Over the years on a global scale, the Archdiocese of Tuam in the past 27 years has contributed €9,802,185.98, almost ten million to Trócaire, while this year to date the Archdiocese has contributed almost €210,000.  This speaks volumes for the generosity of our people.  Finally, I want to thank you for your co-operation, understanding, generosity, and support.

I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy and peaceful Christmas and pray that the New Year will be a year of great blessings for you, your families and all those dear to us.

+Michael Neary
Archbishop of Tuam

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