Two priests, one Catholic and one Church of Ireland, are to go on the run in their east Galway parish as a way of combating the impact of further restrictions on public religious services.
Under Level 3 restrictions no church or faith in Ireland may hold public services, except for weddings and funerals at which attendance is strictly limited
Fr Gerard Geraghty and Rev John Godfrey both minister in the East Galway village of Aughrim and plan to run three kilometres a day to pray for their parishes. They also hope to encourage fitness, well-being, community cohesion and spiritual enrichment, as well as raise money to help with the loss of finance every parish is experiencing.
They intend continuing the run until Level 3 restrictions are eased.
Rev Godfrey, who came up with the idea, believes it could be rolled out across every parish in Ireland.
Fr Geraghty also wants local people to join them.
“We learned during the first lockdown just how important it is to look after our mental, physical and spiritual health,” he said, “so we want local people to join us in doing 3K a day until the churches open again.”
Rev Godfrey added that “it doesn’t matter if you run, walk, cycle, scooter, skip or swim” and “if three kilometres is too much for you on your own, three people in a household could do a kilometre each. What matters is the spiritual discipline of doing this every day for your local church”.
He added that “just like other charities, church finances have been hit hard by the pandemic”. It was why “we are asking people to sponsor the ‘3K a Day to Pray’ appeal, as a way of making sure that their local churches have the finances to keep running properly,” he said.
Ecumenical collaboration is not new in Aughrim. During recent renovations at St Catherine’s Catholic Church there, weekly Masses were celebrated at the Church of Ireland Holy Trinity Church and in June of last year both priests jointly led celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Holy Trinity Church.
They also shared a Lenten bible Study earlier this year and are currently working together on plans for the Aughrim Climate Action Park, a community ecological project on church land.
They have organised a Go Fund Me page for those who may wish to donate, at gofundme.com ‘3K a Day to Pray – Aughrim & Creagh Parish Unions’ or ‘3K a Day to Pray – Aughrim & Kilconnell RC Parish’.