Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said while there is some distance to go yet in conquering Covid-19, there are aspects of the response that we must continue with even when we have overcome the virus.
In his statement after Easter Sunday Mass at St John's Cathedral, Bishop Leahy said there is promise of a new world emerging and the Coronavirus cannot strike us in vain.
“As we move into another phase of lockdown with a sense of, as the Irish proverb puts it well: Tús maith, leath no hoibre, it’s no longer the beginning but the continuing that really counts," he said.
Bishop Leahy noted the efforts that have been made by people across the country to comply with the public health restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19.
"We can be grateful for the major efforts made by the overwhelming majority of people to stay at home and abide by social distancing, hand hygiene, cocooning and self-isolation. The Covid-19 virus won’t disappear by magic,” he said in an almost-empty cathedral.
But, he added, as we are on a collective journey, there is a moment when we can engage in a conversation about what we are seeing on this journey. “It could be an expression of another Irish proverb Giorraíon beirt bóthar, two people shorten a journey.”
He continued; “The day will come when we’ll be getting near the destination and our mind will be moving on to that and the considerable challenges facing us. This week we’ve seen already a little of what they will be like with the disappointing setback faced by those laid off in Debenham’s and by the many young students preparing for the Leaving Cert. But for now, it would be a good idea to drill down into the experience we are living through and ask – what are the insights and discoveries we are making that we would want to hold on to."
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In his message, which was streamed online, Bishop Leahy said the past number of weeks have proven difficult for everyone.
“What is this experience saying to us about the scale of values we normally operate out of? From the perspective of today’s crisis, what have we realised about the hectic pace of ‘normal’ times? What we might consider doing differently in the future: the place of the older generations in society, the need to cultivate the inter-generational bond, the way we value services, including the more everyday ones, the focus on relationships to be treasured more deeply, life and work balance, re-thinking political and economic, education and social systems, economic and social systems, our leisure time," he said.
The bishop says the crisis has also brought a renewed focus on community.
“I think also of the wonderful statement of community we have had through volunteer movements. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ – the ‘Golden Rule’. We are doing that now perhaps like we have not for years. A flame has been reignited and let’s not forget this. Let’s not leave it behind. Let’s see if the structures working so brilliantly, not least here in Limerick with the Limerick COVID-19 Response, can be retained. Why not? "Yes, it is a difficult and unprecedented time for all of us. For the bereaved, it may be the worst of times. But for all that, there are elements and learnings we cannot leave behind."
In conclusion, Bishop Leahy said people's focus should not be simply about getting through the current crisis.
“The Coronavirus should not be allowed strike us in vain. Our combat shouldn’t just be about getting through all of this alive, important as that is. Hidden in this storm of threatening darkness are signs of Resurrection because out of this virus, if we name and own what’s deep-down going on within us at this time, a new world might be emerging,” he said.