“COVID-19 pandemic will come to pass,” South Africa-based Cleric at Priestly Anniversary

Archbishop Stephen Brislin (right) presents Msgr Barney McAleer (left) with a framed certificate in gratitude for his work in Southern Africa.
Credit: Public Domain

An Irish missionary Cleric serving in South Africa has, on the occasion of his 56th Priestly anniversary recently marked, shared a message of hope amid COVID-19 global pandemic, inviting the people of God on the continent to remain optimistic because the coronavirus “will come to pass.”

“I am writing all this today to comfort you, console you and strengthen you. We are faced with the pandemic, but it will pass,” Msgr. Barney McAleer writes his reflection published by the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) Thursday, June 25.

Msgr. McAleer who has spent his entire priestly life in South Africa ministering in Johannesburg Archdiocese and in recent years coordinating the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Foundation adds in reference to COVID-19 crisis, “Nothing lasts forever. Our God is the God of life and the God of history. He speaks to us through the events of life and the events of our own personal lives. His hand is over us at all times.”

“We have to face challenges of one kind and another, as did Jesus, the apostles and all who followed after. We stand firm in our faith, confident in God’s love,” he reflects and expresses the confidence that “we will see the end of this pandemic and pick up the pieces of a normal life eventually.”

The Irish Cleric to whom Pope emeritus Benedict XVI bestowed the title “monsignor” in January 2014 just before he turned 75 goes on to recount global challenges that have come “to an end” during his lifetime.

“Communism came to an end with the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, some of you might recall that moment. A few years later the Wall of Apartheid came crashing down and South Africa changed radically with the release of Mandela and the introduction of Democracy,” he recalls in his June 25 reflection.

“The Irish struggle with England (for now) ended with the Good Friday Agreement and the violence came to an end,” he further recounts.

Msgr. McAleer who, in January 2018, was lauded by SACBC members as a “great evangelizer and man of the people” and acknowledged for his forthrightness including challenging “the Bishops to think differently” recalls the changes at the level of the Catholic Church leadership since his ordination to the priesthood.

“When I was ordained, Pope John XXIII had just opened the Second Vatican Council. He died and was followed by Pope Paul VI. Then he died and was followed by Pope John Paul I, he died and was followed by Pope John Paul II. He died and we got Pope Benedict. He resigned and now we have Pope Francis,” the Irish-born Cleric recalls referencing the six Popes he has so far ministered under.

Msgr. McAleer whose name, according to Archbishop William Slattery, “is synonymous with evangelization” goes on to highlight the spiritual, liturgical and cultural changes in the Church in his lifetime.

“When I said my first mass all those years ago, I said it in Latin; the mass in the vernacular languages had not yet been introduced. I was blessing the people in Latin,” he continues to recount changes in his lifetime adding, “Today we speak of the priesthood of the Laity, where all baptized share in the priestly, kingly and prophetic mission of Jesus.”

“I am sure all of you can look back and see the changes that have taken place in your own lives. Life is all about change and development,” Msgr. McAleer writes and referencing the ongoing global pandemic invites the people of God on the continent to, for now, “bow our heads and accept the cross, say our prayers and place ourselves, our families, our businesses, our economy and our leaders under the protection of the Lord God of history.”


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]