One of the great losses during this time of pandemic has been the restrictions placed on parishioners attending wakes and funerals. The natural instinct is to go and offer sympathy to the bereaved. It goes against the grain to absent yourself from the home of a deceased neighbour or friend. It is also distressing when you cannot attend a funeral either. Ballinascreen and Desertmartin families are noted for their loyalty and support to families who suffer a bereavement. No one ever needed to think twice about going to a wake or funeral.

But these are not ordinary times we are now living through. We all have our part to play in keeping the numbers who contract Coronavirus low, for it’s out there to be picked up if we do not follow the rules. And though for most people Covid 19 may not impact seriously on their health, it is dangerous and life threatening for others and that might very well include ourselves. We cannot take the risk. We cannot presume that if we get the virus we will escape its worst effects. Wearing a mask is essential. We ask those who visit any of our churches to please wear a mask for their own and others’ safety. Please sanitise your hands on entering and leaving the Church. If visiting the Holy Rosary Church for private prayer please place a yellow card on the seat where you have been seated so that no one will sit there until the area is sanitised.

Those who attend wakes should only do so if they are related to the family or the very closest of friends. This is a difficult call to make but no one will take offence by your absence. They will understand. We are all in this together. Standing alongside the road on the day of the funeral is a very moving tribute. We are entering into the winter months when flu and other ailments will be the order of the day. We must do our bit not to exacerbate an already demanding situation for our health professionals.


From this week onwards we ask that only members of a family, whose loved one is being prayed for, attend the Friday Anniversary Mass in Holy Rosary Church at 7.30 pm. This will ensure that there is sufficient space for those who are remembering a Month’s Mind, First Anniversary and other anniversaries. The Anniversary Mass will be available on the parish webcam.

(6 October 2020)

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October is the month of the Holy Rosary. You are invited to join with the priests of the parish in the recitation of the Holy Rosary, during October, by viewing this YouTube video. (Click on image above to view the video.)

2 October 2020


As part of a parish response to Pope Francis designating September 1- October 4  Season of Creation, Fr Madden will bless an image of St Francis of Assisi at the 6.15 pm Vigil Mass this evening (Saturday). We will say the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi each day at mass and we invite families to do the same at home in the evening at meal time or before bedtime.

We invite parishioners to take to the outdoors during this month and to capture on a phone or camera an image that celebrates the Season of Creation. Please send your image to ballinascreenparish@gmail.com and we will create our own virtual response to this call to prayer and praise of God's beautiful creation of which we are a part and to which we belong.

Closing date for pictures: 30 September 2020

5 September 2020


(27 August 2020)


Those who would like to form Covid 19 Teams for each church in the parish, for weekend Masses beginning Saturday 18 July, are invited to join Fr Madden at the following times this week.


St Columba’s Church, Straw: Friday 10 July at 8 pm

Holy Rosary Church, Draperstown: Saturday 11 July at 12 Noon

St Patrick’s Church, Sixtowns: Saturday 11 July at 3 pm

St Eugene's Church, Moneyneena: Sunday 12 July at 6 pm


For churches to reopen safely for public Masses, we need a small group of parishioners who will direct people to their seat and when mass is over to sanitise the church.


Weekend Masses will be at the following times from Saturday July 18, provided Covid-19 Teams are in place.



Moneyneena 5 pm

Holy Rosary 6.15 pm

Keenaught 7.30 pm



Straw 9 am

Coolcalm 10 am

Sixtowns 11 am

Holy Rosary 12 Noon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (6 July 2020)


Following the news that from Monday June 29 Mass may be celebrated in churches with a limited number of people, depending on social distancing, some seats will be available at morning Mass in Holy Rosary Church Draperstown on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10.00 am and in St Mary’s Church Coolcalm on Tuesday and Thursday at 10.00 am.

However, it is still safer to remain at home and follow Mass on the webcam. This certainly applies to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Masses will still be available on the webcam for the majority of parishioners.

Despite the fact that permission has now been given to open churches for Mass, advice has been, to say the least, confusing. Fr Madden and Fr McGirr believe that we should take the reintroduction of public worship slowly. This is based on the many conversations they have had with parishioners in both parishes, from Parish Pastoral Groups, advice from medical professionals and guidelines issued by the Irish Episcopal Conference.

Therefore, though public daily Mass will resume on Monday 29 June, Sunday Masses including Saturday Vigils will remain on the webcam for now. As a greater number of people attend Mass at the weekend than on a weekday, greater attention must be paid to how we can facilitate this larger number safely.

We will keep parishioners up to date throughout the week with notices on the parish website and via the Parish Facebook.

It is very important to note that the Sunday Obligation to attend Mass has been removed.

Volunteers needed:

In the meantime, a large body of volunteers is needed to implement the many guidelines that must be in place before daily Masses begin.

As we hope to open each church in the parish for weekend Masses, as soon as possible, volunteers will be needed for each church.

Dates and times of meetings for volunteers will be posted on Facebook etc….

On Monday morning (June 29)  parishioners who wish to attend the 10.00 am Mass are asked to come early and to take directions from the ushers, who will giude you to your seat. It will not be possible to sit wherever you like and social distancing must be maintained.

Please do not genuflect, bow your head in reverence instead.

There will be no kneeling during Mass, only sitting or standing.

Holy Communion will be distributed at the end of Mass and on the hand only. Parishioners must go to communion when instructed to do so and will leave the church by the nearest exit. You cannot come back in to the church.

If the limit of seats is reached, parishioners are asked to sit in their cars and follow Mass, if they can, on the webcam. When those seated have left the church, those who have remained in their cars are welcome to enter the church to receive Holy Communion. They will sanitise their hands and leave as directed.

We thank you, in advance, for your cooperation as these new guidelines are implemented.


Mindful that some Readers of the Word of God and Eucharistic Ministers may not be available to offer their services at this time, those who can are asked to please email the Parish Office as soon as possible giving name, address, and telephone number and the church they usually attend. Thank you.

Email Address: ballinascreenparish@gmail.com

                                                                                                     (27 June 2020)


Following the announcement that a decision will be made on Thursday next by the Northern Executive about the opening or not of places of worship on Monday June 29, plans are being prepared to put in place the detailed procedures for the safe reopening of churches for public worship that the Irish Episcopal Conference has proposed. No church may open for Mass if these health and safety measures are not in place. Updates on the parish website and Facebook will keep parishioners informed over these next couple of weeks.

(19 June 2020)


Sunday 14 June, the Feast of Corpus Christi, would be the day when the P4 pupils who had received their First Holy Communion would celebrate their final Do This In Memory Of Me Mass in St Columba’s Church Straw. As Bishop Donal said recently, please God the time will come soon when they can receive Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist for the first time.
There is however a sacrament the children received earlier this year in preparation for their First Holy Communion and that sacrament was the Sacrament of Reconciliation or First Confession.
We invite the First Communion classes in both parishes to join, via the webcam, with the rest of their parish community on Tuesday (June 9) for a special Service of Reconciliation from Holy Rosary Church at 7.30 pm.
In the absence of individual confession at these times, we all still need the grace of this beautiful sacrament.

                                                                    (6 June 2020)


To access a wide variety of initiatives and activities by Derry Diocesan Youth, visit: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DerryDiocesanYouth/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/derryyouth/

                                                                    (6 June 2020)


Day of Prayer & Penance in the face of the Coronavirus

Date: Friday 29th May
Start: 6:00am
Where: www.derrydiocese.org

A number of parishes will be participating in this event by broadcasting their own virtual pilgrimage throughout the 24 hours. The diocese will broadcast the pilgrimage from https://www.derrydiocese.org/ and will link into each parish webcam at the times listed below:

FRIDAY, 29 MAY 2020
6.00 am The Angelus and Morning Prayer - from St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry
6.30 am Mass - from St Eugene’s Cathedral with Bishop McKeown
8.30 am First Station - from St Patrick’s Church, Gortin, Co Tyrone 12.00noon The Angelus and Second Station - from Drumragh Parish, Omagh, Co Tyrone
6.00 pm The Angelus and Third Station - from St Mary’s, Killyclogher, Co Tyrone
12.00 midnight Fourth Station - from St Pius X, Moville, Co Donegal 

1.30 am Fifth Station - from St Mary’s Church, Cockhill, Buncrana, Co Donegal   
3.00 am Sixth Station - from Church of Our Lady of Mercy, Lavey,
4.30 am Seventh Station - from St Mary’s Church, Creggan, Derry
6.00 am The Angelus and Mass - from St Eugene’s Cathedral with Bishop McKeown

For more information follow this link: https://www.derrydiocese.org/news/a-day-of-prayer-and-penance

(27 May 2020)

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The 54th World Day of Social Communications will be celebrated this Sunday 24 May – the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Pope Francis has chosen to reflect on the theme of storytelling in his message this year.

On Sunday morning and throughout the day, resources and video clips from around the diocese will be published on the diocesan website and its social media channels on this storytelling theme.

On Sunday, you can follow them online at:

                                                                    (22 May 2020)


Starts tomorrow, May 22. This 9 day Novena to the Holy Spirit begins in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost. The prayers for each day of the Novena are available here:website: https://www.parishofballinascreen.com/copy-of-novena-of-ref…
To move to the relevant day of the novena simply click on the button at the top of the webpage for the day in question.
We are particularly encouraging the families of the Confirmation Classes in the parish, who await the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, to follow the Novena and to pray the prayer to the Holy Spirit each day. (21 May 2020)


Following the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive that churches could open for private prayer from tomorrow Tuesday May 19, we are now actively putting in place the necessary safety measures that are required so that Holy Rosary Church may open for two hours each day. We would hope that these could be in place by Friday of this week. Such is the level of health and safety measures that are demanded for the safe reopening of a Church, we require volunteers who will offer their time to supervise the church during these hours. Two Volunteers are needed for each hour so that visitors to the church can be safely directed in and out of the church, using different entrance and exit. They will also be required to clean hard surfaces where a visitor has knelt and prayed. If you are willing to supervise one of the hours Monday to Saturday 11 am to 1 pm and on a Sunday from 3 pm to 5 pm please email ballinascreenparish@gmail.com with your name and telephone number as soon as possible. The number of volunteers will determine how many days of the week the church can be opened.
With the successful implementation of these measures in Holy Rosary Church we would hope to provide the same measures at weekends in the other churches of the parish over the coming weeks. (19 May 2020)

Ballinascreen Parish Office, 9 High Street, Draperstown

028 79628248