I am pleased to inform you that I am making steady but slow progress with my recovery after being discharged from the hospital and returning to the parish. My main lasting effect of the Coronavirus is fatigue. But I now feel well enough to celebrate the forthcoming Holy Week Liturgies with our community. I thank you so much for your kind thoughts and prayerful support to me during this period of my illness.
There is no doubt that you are all as delighted as I am with the First Minister’s announcement that we can open our Churches for communal worship from the 26th of March. As a result, and taking into consideration my current health condition, I will celebrate the Holy Week Liturgies in St. Fergus only, beginning with Palm Sunday. For the re-opening of St. Anthony’s church Kirriemuir, I will celebrate my first Mass there on Divine Mercy Sunday which is the 2nd Sunday of Easter on 11th April, at the usual time of 9.15 am.
For the Holy Week Liturgies, it is important for us to note that the Bishops have advised us to keep everything as short and simple as possible. Therefore, (1) there’ll be no procession on Palm Sunday, people will pick up palms as they go in, and I will bless them without sprinkling holy water (2) all Readings including the Passion will be taken in their shorter versions (3) on Maundy Thursday, there will be no washing of feet, no procession to the altar of repose, no watching or public stripping of the altar (3) on Good Friday, there will be no Stations of the Cross, only the celebrant will venerate the cross during the Passion celebration (although people can venerate their own if they have brought them eg. rosaries) (4) for Easter Vigil, there will be no bonfire, the paschal candle will be lit in the sanctuary at the beginning, no congregational candles, only 3 readings/psalms from OT, then readings of Mass. Water will be blessed but no blessing of congregation with the Holy Water at the renewal of Baptismal promises. The Alleluia will be intoned from my phone but the Exultet will be recited unless I am able to play it from my phone also.
As attendance is still limited to the number our church can accommodate while maintaining social distancing, may I ask you to book in for the Liturgies as usual. Just text or email me, or Frances Hampton on 0787329168 email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and indicate the days and Liturgies you would like to attend. Please, note that the Bishops granted priests the dispensation to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation again this year with General Absolution of Penitents from 26th March until 11th April. Therefore, I have fixed two Penitential Services with General Absolution on Tuesday 30th March and Tuesday 6th April in Forfar respectively.
Please, endeavour to take advantage of this opportunity provided. The times for all the Liturgies of this Holy Week can be found in the enclosed attachment. Please, do not hesitate to get back to me if you think there is anything I have overlooked. May the blessings of the Lord remain with us both now and always. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
My dear Friends and Parishioners,
I wish to use this opportunity to inform you that I have returned home from my short trip to Nigeria. My parents were delighted to have me and I was so pleased to see them too, especially my father who is really struggling with his health. During the period, I had the privilege to officiate at the funeral of my cousin, Mr. Donatus Okoro, which was a sad one as he died at a young age of 55 years, leaving behind his poor wife and children.
Back home here, I am delighted that there was no emergency situation in the parish that required the urgent attention of a priest, and all of you are doing well, finding ways to survive the national lockdown and restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As you all know, having arrived from an at-risk country which is not exempt from the current national Covid-19 quarantine rules in Scotland, I am legally required to quarantine for up to 10 days. I will observe it as required by law.
Meanwhile, I am not displaying any of the Covid-19 symptoms, and I am beginning to read just gradually, trying to get into the rhythm of things again.
As we are not yet permitted to celebrate Mass with a congregation, I will be celebrating privately while you would have to continue participating virtually wherever you can find it. But I will be at the other end of the phone should anyone want to contact me for anything. While I thank God for granting me journey mercy and for keeping you safe, I look forward to the lockdown being eased off soon so that we can return to our community worship and services.
Until then, let’s continue to keep each other in our prayers. With kind regards.
Fr. Tobias O. Okoro.