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Belfast priest's blessing for confined faithful during coronavirus pandemic

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Fr Tim Bartlett offers a blessing to Annette Daly

Fr Tim Bartlett offers a blessing to Annette Daly

PA

Irene Leckey with her granddaughters Grace Connolly (right) and Meabh
Connolly (left)

Irene Leckey with her granddaughters Grace Connolly (right) and Meabh Connolly (left)

PA

Fr Tim Bartlett offers a blessing to Annette Daly

Dozens of Catholic parishioners in west Belfast have been blessed with holy water at their doorsteps during lockdown.

A priest at the city's oldest Catholic church, St Mary's, visited residents struggling to remain in good spirits during the coronavirus restrictions.

Some elderly parishioners have been remaining indoors most of the time, unable to attend Mass and with little ability to access internet sermons, said Irene Leckey, who helped organise the event. She said: "People were struggling with mental health because of the isolation from their families.

"Many people almost wanted the priest to hear their confessions, talking about their feelings.

"It was a relief for the people to be able to speak to the priest privately.

"As much as it was at their own door they were able to speak privately with the priest giving the blessing."

Ms Leckey (52) distributed bottles of blessed holy water because people were unable to visit church to pick up their own supplies.

Fr Timothy Bartlett from St Mary's and a deacon gave blessings. Ms Leckey added: "A lot of them were very emotional today, very grateful. Fr Tim wanted to keep the connection between the people and the church."

They blessed the houses from a distance due to social distancing requirements. Ms Leckey said: "They had realised how many people were missing the church."

May 31 was Pentecost Sunday, the festival when many Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Belfast Telegraph