A priest in Co Laois has described how social media is helping him connect with parishioners amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fr Paddy Byrne, a priest based in Abbeyleix and Raheen, says the measures implemented to reduce the spread of the virus, including cocooning, have made his role very different.
People over the age of 70 or those who are medically vulnerable have been asked not to leave their homes for two weeks.
Funeral services across the country have also been impacted, with only family and close friends asked to attend.
Fr Byrne said he has had to roll up his sleeves and change how he interacts with people in the community during the crisis, with many of his colleagues now cocooning.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, he said: "Without delving into the practical side of funerals that are taking place across the country and continue to be restricted, personally I'm conscious that nearly half of my colleagues in the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, which goes right across the country, are cocooning at the moment.
"Many of them elderly, many of them active and thankfully healthy, are now restricted.
"That puts a huge responsibility on those of us who are out there with our sleeves rolled up to engage, but obviously to engage in a way that will sustain us and the people of God over the weeks and months ahead."
Fr Byrne said that despite the restrictions placed on funerals, people will still be able to express their condolences in other ways.
He said: "The numbers, the huge outpouring that Irish people share in times of grief, physically isn't present, but that doesn't mean there isn't huge love out there, that doesn't mean we are prohibited from sending messages."
— Newstalk Breakfast (@NTBreakfast) March 30, 2020
One of the positive things he has experienced in ministering to people during the pandemic is using technology to help connect with his parishioners.
He said: "I'm using Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, I'm ministering over the phone where people simply turn up the phone to pray with them.
"In their anxiety, many people find that that spirit of hope, and those messages of encountering hope, are really important.
"I say to everyone today, and I do think it's a positive message, that we don't 'but' have today, and in these days where many of us are cocooned, most of us are prohibited for engaging in the normal, to be worrying about what it's going to be like in the middle of April or May, very many of us can lose the gift that is today."
Fr Byrne said that he feels "very proud to be able to bring comfort and hope and solidarity to people".
He added that people staying at home is "a call of active citizenship", and he praised young people for "doing a blinder" by delivering shopping to elderly people.
“When we look back we will be mighty proud of this place we call home.
His comments come after the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, appealed to people to follow the social distancing restrictions.
Bishop Doran said that some "selfish" people are being asked to stop putting pressure on priests to celebrate private masses.
Elphin Diocese is committed to observing the present restrictions for the safety of all. Most parishioners understand this but a small minority is putting pressure on priests to say a private Mass for them. This is selfish. It contradicts the very meaning of communion.
— Kevin Doran (@KevinElphin) March 29, 2020