We continue our Facebook series today here on The Digital Parish asking some questions of priests, religious, bishops, lay people, who have been using digital media before and during the Covid-19 pandemic to reach out online. As well as finding out how people are reaching out online, we are also interested in knowing how they themselves are coping in lockdown and what they miss most at this time of social distancing.

Our latest respondent is Nóirin Lynch, Director of the Margaret Aylward Centre in Glasnevin. She is a native of Limerick, a Clare and Dublin resident and she describes herself as someone learning to live more slowly especially during these days!

Q1. How are you coping day to day with lockdown/social distancing?
I’m coping well I think. I live alone in a one bedroom flat in Dublin, but I’m lucky to have lovely neighbours and to live in an old street with loads of light. So, there are lots of places to walk with nice gardens to admire.

I set up a series of weekly Zoom calls with family and friends at the start and that’s been a lifesaver. Something I’ve realised is that we laugh with people mostly, so I need people to keep me laughing at myself!

Q2. What do you miss most?
I miss hugs and the freedom to go places. I have a newfound respect for prisoners and hermits who have to live with themselves in small spaces!!

I miss the Atlantic seashores a lot – Clare is my home and I usually visit the sea weekly. I miss the smell of seaweed and salt and sand. The colour of foam and stone and shells. The silence of sitting on a windy outcrop and letting it all flow through and around you. I have found morning meditation with dear friends to be a huge support in reclaiming that stillness for my heart.

Q3. How are you reaching out online as a priest/parish/individual? Will you continue this post-Coivid 19?
I am blessed to be employed by the Holy Faith sisters as Director of the Margaret Aylward Centre for Faith and Dialogue in Glasnevin. It’s a stunning space, facing the Botanic Gardens. We closed as soon as the schools did and faced the question of how to minister to people we couldn’t meet in person.

We decided to try three things to offer support at this time:
Firstly a weekly text to all on our contact lists, as a contact which didn’t require internet or unlimited data. This has been very well received.

Secondly is our monthly newsletter which has now become a weekly one, containing a reflection and a resource for the week ahead. Again a positive, gentle connection intended to support.

Finally we decided to offer some courses on Zoom. This was a new medium for us so we offered only nine courses, to small numbers, asking for a donation not a fee so that people weren’t under pressure. I’ll admit, I didn’t expect huge uptake but thought it was important to offer some gentle spaces for engagement. The courses were poetry, singing, creative writing, Christian justice, Soul stories (reflection on spiritual stories), mindfulness, and yoga. To our surprise they all booked up and have proved to be very popular.

In terms of outreach, I’ve come to see both the huge benefits and the limitations of this technology. I am so grateful that we can continue to offer moments of connection, but hugely aware that it is mainly available to people who can afford a laptop and good WiFi. How to stay grounded in the real lived experience of the community is a challenge.

Post Covid-19, I hope that we can continue to stay connected with that wider network (some courses like creative writing work very well online), but also that the wide green spaces we offer here can be a source of healing and nourishment for north side Dubliners as we find our way back into one another’s safe company again. The image of the Emmaus walk strikes me as very valuable for the months ahead – slowly making sense of it all in twos and threes, as we walk under the old Cedar, Yew and Oak trees here.

Q4. What’s the first thing you will do after lockdown/social distancing is eased?
The first thing I want to do is go home to Limerick and to get a good look at my parents and family! Zoom has been a blessing, but nothing beats a hug or a cup of tea with the people you love.

Then the sea. I will probably run into it, cry inappropriately, laugh out loud and sing a song at the same time! I hope I don’t frighten all the other people who are rushing to get there on that day too!!

It will take time, I know, to re ground ourselves after this. I hope I will be kind to those struggling to make sense of life after Covid-19.

Q5. What’s your message to those in need of hope and encouragement at this time?
My message is you are stronger and braver than you give yourself credit for, but that doesn’t mean you have to always feel strong and brave. Please allow yourself some silence in each day to notice how you are, and to feel your feelings. If you can’t love everything at the moment, love some particular moment of the day or some part of life (Sarah Bessey).

In these moments of stillness, of honesty and of love, we can recognise God who has been with us as we walked and worried, who isn’t rushing us or judging us but who is always always walking us home. We are never alone.

Related News

placeholder
Laudato Si Animators – The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations ….

Some of our Holy Faith sisters who worked in South Sudan in recent years will remember fondly Fr Tim Galvin, a Kiltegan priest from Brosna, Co Kerry, who has lived there since 1983. Fr Tim recently trained as a Laudato Si Animator and created THIS…

Read more
placeholder
As we emerge…

As we emerge from lockdown and begin to step out into the summer, its a good opportunity be grateful for all that we have been given. Had we been told in February 2020 that we were entering into more than a year of isolation, we…

Read more
placeholder
A Pentecost reflection

On Saturday 22nd May, we gathered before Pentecost to reflect on the guidance of the Holy Spirit with our friend and guide Donal Dorr. Participants logged in from across this island, England, Scotland, America, Australia and from parts of Asia and Africa too. Much like…

Read more
placeholder
Launch of a New Book Reflecting on Covid
Read more
placeholder
The Irish Catholic Church Calls a Synod – Irish Bishops Ask for your Opinion
Read more
placeholder
From Gloom to Zoom – Creating New Communities of Hope Online

When the centre closed in doors in early March 2020, we imagined that a 12 week closure might be the worst possible scenario. Our first thought was how we might support both facilitators and participants on our courses in this challenging time. We decided to do three things To change our…

Read more
placeholder
Deirdre Ni Chinneide – Crossing the Threshold of Hope
Read more
placeholder
Laudato Si, Bookclubs and Celebrations – Caring for our Common Home Online

A book club with Dermot Lane on his new book ‘Theology and Ecology in dialogue: the wisdom of Laudato Si’. A fantastic opportunity to unpack Dermot’s important contribution to this conversation as we explored how every aspect of our theology and faith was, and is,…

Read more
placeholder
Thank you – Lent and Easter at the Margaret Aylward Centre

If you would like to send us a testimonial or review of any events that we might be able to share with newcomers, please email info@macfd.ie. Thank you.

Read more
placeholder
#DareToCare – A Webinar Encouraging Engagement and Appreciation in Society.
Read more
placeholder
Marie Dunne CHF – Sharing Music and Healing Across Lockdown

Marie Dunne is ‘one of our own’ here in the Margaret Aylward centre – a Holy Faith Sister choir director, and composer of Liturgical Music amongst many other gifts. She is always a friendly, encouraging voice for us all, so we weren’t surprised when across…

Read more
placeholder
January 2021 – New Year, New Possibilities

As we begin again we want to offer our friends and community some gentle, encouraging events to lift our spirits. So we are delighted that Anne F O’Reilly has come together with Deirdre Ní Chinnéide to offer two courses for you, and that Martina Lehane…

Read more
placeholder
Advent and Christmas 2020

 It was a lovely end to a busy year, and we are grateful that we could gather, if only online. We really look forward to being able to meet in person again soon.

Read more
placeholder
The Digital Parish

We continue our Facebook series today here on The Digital Parish asking some questions of priests, religious, bishops, lay people, who have been using digital media before and during the Covid-19 pandemic to reach out online. As well as finding out how people are reaching…

Read more
placeholder
A Love Letter to the Earth

On Sunday, 24 May 2020, we are celebrating! The Margaret Aylward centre is delighted to be part of the organising committee for the prestigious event “A Love Letter to the Earth”. An evening of music, poetry and song with internationally known speakers sharing hope!! Register…

Read more
placeholder
Laudato Si Week!

This week is designated as Laudato Si week! It is the fifth anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis letter to all about caring for our common home. So as we start Laudato Si week today (16-24th May), I invite you to read one chapter…

Read more
placeholder
Colour In The Cracks!

Just sharing a recent sight that spoke, indeed is still speaking Hope to my spirit and brought unexpected Joy to my heart; a gift from “the God of Perpetual Surprises” (Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei 35). Having been ill and cocooned for roughly a month my…

Read more
placeholder
Beyond A Throwaway Culture

It was a great joy to gather together a group of interested, invested participants for a day of reflection and challenge on the theme of eco-justice in our world this February. As a centre, we are convinced that the climate change conversation is the most…

Read more