Rich and Varied Celebrations of Holy Week and Easter in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The week that starts each year with the Sunday before Easter Day, Palm Sunday, is known to Christians as Holy Week.  Its importance and significance in the Church is highlighted by its being called ‘The Great Week’ in the early history of Christianity.  Parishes throughout Cork, Cloyne and Ross, in common with Christians throughout the world, made this a week long spiritual journey of worship, commemoration and celebration. Photos from around the Diocese show how it all unfolded in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday commemorates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem for the last days of his life. This is re-enacted in parishes as the Gospel account of that arrival is read, and with processions and palm branches.  On this day too the scene for the whole of Holy Week is set as the entire account of the betrayal, arrest, trial and execution of Jesus (known as ‘The Passion Gospel’) is read, sometimes in dramatic form.

Parishioners gather for the blessing of branches on Palm Sunday before processing into the church in St Andrew’s, Kilmurry

Musicians of the St Nicholas Brass Band tune up in the Canon Packham Hall before the Procession in Douglas

More of Palm Sunday photos:

The reading of the Passion Gospel

In Carrigaline, the Passion Gospel was read in dramatic form, by actors

Holy Week

By tradition parishes hold services throughout Holy Week and people are asked consciously to change the pace and rhythm of their lives to make space for the special events of the week.  Many parishes maintain the tradition of Services every day in the week, others focus on the days known as the Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve.

Holy Week is a chance to pause and reflect – a spiritual pilgrimage

The Bishop spent all of Holy Week in the parishes of Douglas Union with Frankfield where he devised the special services and gave the talks.

It’s a busy week for clergy, and not without its headaches!

Holy Week is a chance to pause and reflect – a spiritual pilgrimage

Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday

One of the main events in Holy Week is on Maundy Thursday when the Diocese is invited by the Bishop to gather with him to renew ordination vows and also commitment to ministry.  The oils for use in the sacramental and pastoral ministry of the Church are blessed.  This Service takes place every year in St Fachtna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery, and everyone enjoys lunch together afterwards in the narthex of the Cathedral.

Billy Skuse (Diocesan Secretary), Mrs Susan Colton, Miss Barbara Veitch (St Stephen’s Protestant Orphan Society), and Mrs Vera Wharton arriving for the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist

The clergy take oils back to their parishes for use in their ministry throughout the coming year.

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday we recall the ‘mandatum’, the commandment of Jesus, given to us to love one another, and as an example of that love and service he washed the disciples’ feet.  This is the evening when the Church remembers the night before his death, when, at supper with his disciples in the upper room, he gave them the meal by which to remember him for ever, the meal by which he is present with us still to nourish and sustain us, and to give us a foretaste of his kingdom.  At the start of the Service on this evening, the oils are received in the parishes from the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist earlier in the day.

At the start of the service on this evening, the oils are received in the parishes from the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist earlier in the day.

The red colour of the earlier days of Holy Week becomes white for this celebration

The reredos (carving behind the altar) in St Luke’s Church, Douglas, sums up this evening well.

At the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday Service we hear how Jesus and the disciples sang a song and went out to the Mount of Olives.  There he was betrayed and arrested. The church is stripped of all that is beautiful and the people leave in darkness and silence.

The church is stripped

Good Friday

The churches which have been stripped and left in the darkness the night before are the stark and desolate setting for the Services of Good Friday.

Abbeystrewry Church, Skibbereen

St Luke’s Church, Douglas where the reredos of the last supper is also covered

Holy Trinity, Frankfield

St Michael’s Church, Blackrock at Noon on Good Friday

St Andrew’s, Kilmurry ~ Good Friday is a day for contemplation of and proclamation of the Cross.

Chapel of Christ the Healer in Cork University Hospital ~ Good Friday is a day for contemplation of and proclamation of the Cross.

Easter Eve

Easter Eve, the Saturday before Easter Day, known also as Holy Saturday (but not Easter Saturday) is a day of continuing, patient waiting, until evening time when, in some parishes, the Paschal Fire is lit, the Paschal Candle is lit from the fire, the Easter Vigil is kept, and the first Eucharist of Easter is celebrated.  Christ is risen!

The Paschal Fire in Moviddy Union of Parishes

The Paschal Fire in Skibbereen, County Cork

The Paschal Candle on Easter Eve in the Chapel of Christ the Healer, Cork University Hospital\

The Paschal Candle on Easter Eve in Abbeystrewry Parish Church

Annual ‘Sun Up’ at the Warren Strand

Each year one of the earliest celebrations of Easter in the Diocese is ‘Sun up’ which took place as usual this year in Rosscarbery. The event began on Saturday afternoon when  young people and leaders spent time playing crazy golf, playing various games, and creating dramatic versions of the events of Holy Week. On Sunday morning, the group gathered on the Warren Beach at 6.30am and were joined by local members of the community. The morning was beautiful and the celebration of the Eucharist conducted by the Dean of Ross, was followed by a hearty breakfast.

Sun Up on Easter Morning at the Warren Beach

Easter Day

Easter Day begins with the proclamation: ‘Christ is risen!’ In a complete reversal of the mood of Good Friday, Easter becomes a day of hope, light and joy. Each year the Bishop leads the Diocese in the celebrations of Easter at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork.

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Baptisms at Easter

In the early Church, baptisms, initiation into membership of the Church, took place at Easter after a long period of teaching and testing (throughout Lent).  Still today, many parishes include baptism as part of their Easter celebrations.

Teddy was baptized in Saint Mary, Marmullane (Passage West)

Emily was baptized in St Michael’s Church, Blackrock

Eliza Marianna was baptized in St Andrew’s, Kilmurry

Musicians and Choirs

Holy Week and Easter are a busy time for everyone in parishes, not least musicians, organists, and choirs.

In st Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, on Good Friday there was a liturgical performance of John Stainer’s ‘The Crucifixion’

The Bishop kept the organist and choir in St Luke’s, Douglas busy throughout the week also.

Mrs B. McCutcheon and Mrs V. Locke chat in Douglas before the Palm Sunday procession.  Organist, Mark Slade (right) contemplates the week ahead!

Involving the Children

Holy Week and Easter are a time of commemoration and celebration for everyone in the Church.  It is a time of very vivid and active participation for children and young people:

The wonder and excitement of it all

Messy Church on Good Friday in Abbeystrewry Parish, Skibbereen, County Cork

Working with other Christians

This is a time of year also when Christians of different denominations work, worship and witness together.  Douglas Churches Together had a number of activities: a Walk of Witness on Palm Sunday and an Easter Garden Dawn Service on Easter Day.  In addition, throughout Holy Week, they staffed stalls in the two main shopping centres in their suburb of Cork, and the prayers garnered from shoppers were also brought to the evening Services in the churches and included in the intercessions of the day.

Starting to gather at Douglas Community Centre for the Douglas Churches Together Walk of Witness on Palm Sunday

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Easter Cross in the Bible Garden at Ardfallen Methodist Church, Cork

Easter Morning in the Bible Garden at Ardfallen, for Douglas Churches Together

Hearty Easter Breakfast in Ardfallen Methodist Church for Douglas Churches Together

Easter Decor

By Easter Day, flower arrangers and decorators are back in action after a fallow Lent when, traditionally, there are no flowers in churches.  In so many ways the Easter decorations inspire the joyful Easter celebrations.

All set for Easter in St Mary’s Church, Caheragh

A miniature Easter Garden in Moviddy Union of Parishes

And a cameo appearance in St John’s, Monkstown of a chick on Easter Morning!

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