Snow patrol: Fr Dick Browne, PP, Cappamore on the quad being driven by farmer John Ryan
AN ‘act of God’ may have had Limerick on lockdown but it wasn’t enough to keep Fr Dick Browne from carrying out his religious duty - he boarded a quad bike to administer Holy Communion to those housebound in the snow.
Carrying the Blessed Eucharist in a ciborium, and with up to four inches of snow at his feet, the parish priest of Cappamore headed off in his car during the height of Storm Emma to administer Holy Communion on the first Friday of the month.
But when he reached the highland of Shanacloone between Cappamore and Rearcross didn’t his car get stuck.
“He said he would keep going on foot as the old people were going to be waiting,” said one local.
“He headed up to Shanacloone. Seemingly, there are two old people up at the top of an old bóithrín and when he got to the bóithrín his car got stuck.”
The gods were clearly smiling on Fr Browne as local farmer John Ryan was nearby and came to his rescue.
“John Ryan said, ‘come on, we’ll get the quad’. Fr Browne got up on the back and they headed off.”
“In total, Fr Browne made 36 house calls on the day,” added the local.
“He made a great effort to get Communion out to the people – to all those who were snowbound,” said Liz Grant, head of the Cappamore Day Care Centre.
And Fr Browne’s loyalty to Our Lord, and indeed his parishioners, didn’t end there.
While the majority of Masses were called off across the country - on the advice of Bishops - Fr Browne celebrated not one, but two, Masses in his local church.
As it was the first Friday of the month he was determined to facilitate the elderly and regular Mass-goers who he thought might be anxious to attend.
The daily ten o’clock morning Mass went ahead as usual. However, only Fr Browne, the sacristan and three local nuns were in attendance.
Mass was celebrated again at 7.30 but the weather really took its toll – only Fr Browne and the sacristan were in attendance this time.