Priest’s prayers answered as hundreds to attend Christmas mass in car park

Priest’s Prayers Answered As Hundreds To Attend Christmas Mass In Car Park
A local GAA club has offered its parish priest the use of its car park. Photo: Seamus Farrelly.
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By Louise Walsh

Up to 900 mass-goers will be able to enjoy Christmas Eve ceremonies in Co Louth, after a local GAA club offered its parish priest the use of its car park.

The gesture by St Fechin's club in Termonfeckin has relieved the stress on its parish priest to accommodate as many parishioners as possible, amid tight Covid-19 restrictions limiting mass attendance to 50 people.


Fr Paul Byrne, who has been the parish priest of Termonfeckin for the last two years, said the offer was literally the answer to his prayers.

"When the lady from the GAA club made the offer, I nearly took the hand off her," he laughed. "My stress levels came down immediately.

We can broadcast directly into car radios so people don't even have to open windows

"Potentially, if there are 180 cars with five people, then that means up to 900 people can attend the mass and there may even be a few people carriers there too.


"We are putting up a huge screen and we have an FM transmitter, so we are hoping we can broadcast directly into car radios so people don't even have to open windows.

"At first I was going to stand on an outside platform but the screen will now mean I can celebrate mass from inside the clubhouse.”

Fr Byrne had originally been attempting to arrange five masses in the parish's two churches on Christmas Eve, with the help of another priest.

Fr Paul Byrne described the offer as 'the icing on the Christmas cake'. Photo: Seamus Farrelly.

The parish has been operating an online system for bookings and all “pick a pew” places for masses had already been filled, leaving the priest with a waiting list of ten people and more expected.

"Under the guidelines, there needs to be an hour between masses to sanitise everything so I was scratching my head for quite a while to try and figure how to fit all the masses,” he said.

However, the move by the GAA club now means that anyone in the parish wishing to attend Christmas mass can do so.

"I'm thrilled to be honest. It's great news for us all. It really is the icing on the Christmas cake," Fr Byrne said.


"Holy communion will be distributed by ministers of the eucharist at six stations, so we are hoping people will wear masks and socially distance themselves in leaving their cars to receive it."


"We are not allowed to have choirs under the present Covid-19 guidelines, but we will have individuals to sing some carols," Fr Byrne added. "There will even be a Christmas tree and lights."

"St Fechin's Club has been terrific. Club members and some of our own pastoral council have established a committee to coordinate everything to make the event as memorable as possible."

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The priest said older generations were very fearful of Covid-19 and he believes that parishes should be looking to address mental health issues caused by lockdowns.


"But for now, being able to accommodate most of the parish through the kind offer of the club means that everyone who wants to will get to mass in Termonfeckin this Christmas,” he said.

St Fechin's GAA club PRO Michelle Mooney said: "St Fechin's GAA are delighted to be able to offer the use of their premises to facilitate those in the parish who otherwise would have been unable to attend the Christmas services in the parish churches due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"The club had recently installed a sound system to hold its 'drive-in bingo' in the carpark and so were in a position to host the Christmas Eve drive-in mass - a first for the parish."

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