Star of the Sea, Castlebay, The Isle of Barra. HS9 5XD.
Phone 01871 810267
Email Addres

A Bhileag 29th March 2020

A Bhileag- The Parish Newsletter: since the Churches are now closed the parish newsletter can be picked up from A & C MacLean’s Shop (Bùth Bhuidsear) on the Main Street from now on or to look it up on the parish website for the Parish Newsletter. Canon John Paul will leave the Newsletters on a Saturday morning at Bùth Bhuidsear.


Scottish Catholic Observer Paper: will not be publishing its paper again until the Churches re-open.


No Public Mass: until further notice there is no public Mass being celebrated on the island nor anywhere in Scotland at this time. Canon John Paul celebrates a private Mass each day in Our Lady Star of the Sea- praying every day at the Altar for the intentions of the islands at this difficult time as we battle against the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Churches closed: sadly we have now closed and locked our Churches. The Government and also Bishop Brian have asked for all Churches  in the Diocese to be closed until further notice. Sadly we cannot go to our local church and light a candle and say our prayers and so we now must stay in our homes and say our prayers and light our candles there.


A “Home Altar”: why not  think about making “a Home Altar or a sacred space” in your own home. Have a small table or a small area where you can place a candle, some holy water in a small dish, a Crucifix, an image of a holy picture of our Lord Jesus, a statue of our Lady, a Rosary, a bible, or prayer book. Have it all in one area- “a sacred space”- to go to your sacred space and use it as an aid to your prayer. In the Gospel of Matthew (6:5-6) it says “when you pray go to your private room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you”. These are important times of prayer and especially praying as a family. A Family at prayer is a very powerful witness of prayer.


Funerals: As we all know now- the Government and our own Bishop Brian McGee have told us that the only religious service which can happen is a Funeral and that it can only be at the graveside and only for immediate family. This will be tough for us to “take in” but it is happening all over our World in these “strange and difficult times”.  Therefore if there is a Funeral on the island- there will be NO Public Requiem Mass in the Church- instead Canon John Paul will celebrate a Private Mass for the repose of the soul of the person who has died. Then Canon John Paul will arrange to meet the immediate family at the graveside for the prayers of burial. Then when the Government lift all restrictions- then there will be a Memorial Mass planned with the family for a future date.


Watching Holy Mass on the TV or Internet: catholic channel EWTN  on SKY 588 is very useful- as well as daily Mass but lots of other devotions and also programmes for kids. Go to “Church services TV” on the internet – lots of live streaming from so many churches in Scotland, England and Ireland- we are spoilt for choice!  Bishop Brian is continuing to use the internet to live stream Mass at 10am each day through the  Diocesan facebook/website-we know there have been some “teething problems” but he hopes to overcome them. Also other parishes in the diocese are doing the same.

Since we cannot go to Public Mass we have to use the other ways to help us all spiritually at this time.. The Internet has a huge treasure of  good sites to use to help strengthen our faith at this time.


Sacrament of Confession:since the Church is now closed it is difficult to go to the Sacrament of Confession. If you really need to go to the Sacrament please get in contact with Canon John Paul and he can arrange a time and place.


Mass cards and Anniversaries: Mass Cards can be still handed into the chapel house and they will be signed- also any anniversaries can be handed into the chapel house in Castlebay.


Canon John Paul on the Internet: there will be a weekly video clip (for each Sunday) from Canon John Paul- to try and pass on his own spiritual words of comfort and strength to all  at this difficult time- check St. Barr’s facebook.


Sunday Collection-  some parishioners have been asking “What about the Sunday Collection- how can I still give my collection?”. The best way forward is through the bank – set up a direct debit through on-line banking or set  up a standing order for a monthly amount to Castlebay or Northbay parish. Or you can just keep your gift aid envelopes to one side in your home until the churches reopen.  These are very difficult financial times for everyone. If you wish to set up a direct debit please just contact Canon John Paul for more details. You can Phone at 810267 or email