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

Bhileag 21st June 2020

Recent Burial: we remember in our prayers the repose of  the soul of Mary Ann MacNeil ( Ma Dhunnachaich Mhoir) of Vatersay who passed away on Tuesday 16th June in St. Brendan’s home. Ma had reached the wonderful age of 93. She was laid to rest on Wednesday 17th June in Vatersay Graveyard. Ma was the daughter of Duncan Sinclair who was one of the famous Vatersay raiders and it was something that Ma was very proud of. We remember all Ma’s family at this sad time. Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.


Phase 2 -Church re-opening: the Scottish Government announced last Thursday that we can move into phase 2 of the “route map out of lockdown”- therefore our Churches here on the island will be opened from Monday 22nd June during the day. The Churches are only open for private prayer just now.

When you enter the church your priority is to clean your hands first with the hand sanitiser gel. It might be useful to be prepared and have your own hand gel in your pocket along with your own face covering as you go to Church. However there will be Hand Sanitiser and face coverings  available in the church porch of each of the churches. You must wear a face covering in the church. As always keep a social distance of 2m from anybody else in the church. You will see that there are only certain pews available to sit/kneel in the church. If you are lighting a votive candle to wipe down the lighter with the antibacterial wipes. This is going to be the new normal from now on. If you have any COVID 19 symptoms- high temperature, a new continuous cough, loss or change to sense of smell or taste- then do NOT enter the church- Go home and isolate. Let us all keep safe and keep our churches safe.


Northbay Grotto: the area around the Grotto is open for private prayer.


Requiem Masses: during phase 2 of “lockdown” if there is a death on the island the immediate family of the deceased  will be able to attend the Requiem Mass.  This is good news as it has been really hard  for families to only attend the graveside for prayer. At the Requiem Mass the guidelines of using hand sanitiser, keeping social distance (unless you are from the same household) face coverings are to be followed. Also the family will have to write down the names of those who attend the Requiem Mass and gives the names to Canon John Paul.


Holy Hour with Bishop Brian: on Tuesday 23rd June Bishop Brian will lead a Sacred Heart holy hour on the Diocesan Website /Facebook at 6.30pm.


Public Masses: When we move into phase 3 of the “route Map of coming out of lockdown” there will be the opportunity to go to a Sunday Public Mass but it will be with restricted numbers.  This will hopefully be in 3 weeks time.  So if you begin to think just now what you would plan to do- whether you or your family are going to go to Sunday Mass -could you let Fr. John Paul know so that he can work out numbers and see if extra Masses need to be organised. Fr. John Paul will leave a sheet at the back of Castlebay, Northbay & Craigston Church and you can put your name down or you can phone/email/text Canon John Paul to let him know. When the Public Masses begin you will then be allocated a pew number in the church.  Please note there is NO obligation to go to Sunday Mass just now until our Bishops tell us.  Also if you are being shielded or being advised by the doctor or Government to stay at home- please pay attention to that advice.


Sacrament of Confession: Canon John Paul will be available to hear Confessions- Castlebay Church Confessional on Saturday from 10am-10.30am . Then in Northbay Church Vestry on Saturday from 12 noon-12.30pm Please note that there will be no “face to face” confession. Please contact Canon John Paul if another day or time suits for the Sacrament of Confession.


Church Pass-keepers: when the Churches open for restricted public Masses (which is about 3 weeks away) there will be a need for pass-keepers to be involved. Yes we do have some pass-keepers in our churches but it would be good to have more. The Pass-keeper will meet parishioners at the door of the church; they will make sure those who arrive are wearing a face covering; they will remind people  to clean their hands with sanitising gel. They will tell parishioners that they do not need to carry a hymn book or a newsletter into their pew. They will be instructed that the collection baskets are available as you enter the church and you can place your gift aid envelope or money then in the basket. The Pass-keepers will show people to their seat in the church. They will also guide parishioners to Holy Communion and also help people leave the church in a safe manner. If you would like to help as a pass-keeper please get in contact with Canon John Paul.


Church Cleaners: it will be good to have a list of names of those who could be available to help clean our churches maybe more often. These are strange times as we battle against this coronavirus and it might be uncomfortable for some people to clean churches when there is always the threat of this Coronavirus.  If you are willing to help clean then please get in contact with Canon John Paul so that a list can be organised.


Watching Holy Mass on the TV or Internet: we cannot physically go to Church for Holy Mass just now and so we must now use the Digital World. The Catholic channel EWTN on SKY channel 588 is very good. You can also go online and go toChurch services TV” or go to MCN media As always Bishop Brian is also live-streaming his daily Mass at 10am.   Please note this Sunday 21st June on BBC1 Scotland at 12 noon there will be Mass from St. Augustine’s Church in Coatbridge.


Sunday Collection: Canon John Paul wishes to thank those who have gone online or gone to the bank to help support the parish in their donations. It is very much appreciated especially in these difficult times. Remember Castlebay parish looks after Craigston Church and Vatersay Church . Northbay Parish looks after Eoligarry Church. So if you want to support your church then please use one of the following account details;

RCD Argyll & the Isles Castlebay Mission    Account no. 65627538    Sort Code 839125    Coop Bank

RCD Argyll & the Isles Northbay Mission    Account no. 65628061     Sort Code 839125   Coop Bank