Weekday Masses – Good News!
As Bishop John has previously mentioned, I would like to re-iterate our appreciation to all those volunteers in the parish who are helping to keep our church open as a safe place for prayer. We will all be glad when some normality returns, whatever normal may look like in the future. Let’s keep asking for the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints to help with this new and, hopefully, temporary challenge.
After the first few weeks of re-opening our churches for silent private prayer, we can now announce the next phase will be for the re-commencing of weekday Masses from Monday (27 July). If all goes well our next future phase will be the return of weekend Masses in due course. As we have all come to learn during this Covid-19 pandemic, things can change daily let alone weekly. Let’s keep looking after each other and praying as always for God’s help as we continue to move forward safely.
As you can understand, there are some guidelines that we need to follow in order to keep us all safe:
Holy Mass Preparation
• We are all still dispensed by the Bishop from the Sunday obligation.
• Numbers will be greatly restricted so we will begin with weekday Masses at first. As we are still following the 2metre distancing plan, the government and the Bishop have limited the number of people attending funerals/weddings and baptisms to 30. The limit for Holy Mass is more flexible: -
At St Brendan’s to approximately 42. This is an estimate there are 14 benches with three people per bench- e.g. a couple and single sitting at two metres apart but this can vary if families/people in the same bubble attend.
At St John’s it would be two people per bench sitting on the edges 2metres apart but again this could vary. At first glance we could get 50 into St John’s.
Some churches are adopting a booking system, but as we are starting with weekday Mass I do not think this is necessary at this stage; but please note that once we have reached capacity, sadly, we will have turn people away.
Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and will be mandatory in shops and in supermarkets from 24th July 2020. People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet, such as a church.
• There will be no public toilet facilities for the time being in church.
• The frequency of Masses and liturgies available is entirely dependent of the generosity of time that volunteer stewards are able to give. We thank the stewards for their assistance without their help we could not open church.
Worshippers should limit their interactions with anyone they are not attending church with, i.e. if they are attending corporate worship with one other household, wherever possible they should maintain social distancing with anyone outside of this group.
This section deals with the requirements and conditions for celebrating the Holy Mass by both the diocesan authorities and the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.
• People are asked to come to church in plenty of time before Mass begins in order to make life easier for the volunteer stewards.
• As you enter church please wait at the back, social distancing, and a steward will greet you and direct you to your allocated seats. One of our Vicar Generals, Mgr. Daly has reminded us to say: ‘Advise all that their ‘usual seats’ will not be available.’
• There will be no Sacristans, Altar Servers, Choirs, musicians or Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, at this stage. The Bishops have made clear that for the celebration of Mass, no-one except the Priest is permitted inside the Sacristy, only the Priest should touch the chalice, vestments and sacred vessels, and no-one should approach the Priest while he is on the Sanctuary.
If you are a reader, we will adopt using two lecterns are both Churches, but the reader must wear protective gloves for the reading and the lectern will have to be cleaned after each Mass.• There will be no Prayers of the Faithful (Bidding prayers).
• There will be no Sign of Peace.
• After the prayer and its response “Behold the Lamb of God…Lord I am not worthy,” the Principal Celebrant should hold up the Host to the Congregation and say audibly “The Body of Christ” to which all respond “Amen.”
In the same way, he elevates the chalice and says, “The Blood of Christ” and again all respond “Amen.”
• Holy Communion will be distributed by Fr Alf at the end of Mass instead of at the usual time. Stewards will direct parishioners, row by row, to come forward for Holy Communion, after which they will direct parishioners to leave the church via the one-way system. This is in order to avoid the danger of people gathering together in the church after Mass, to relieve pressure on Stewards to police this (remember they are already kindly giving their time) and to ensure the church can be cleaned and disinfected straight after. This is the method for receiving Holy Communion recommended by the Bishop’s Conference at this time.
• There will be no singing or music during Mass.
• Priests have been asked not to sign any Mass cards to discourage anyone coming into the Sacristy before or after Mass. If you would like a Mass offered, please write the priests name on the card and post the donation with the intention through the presbytery letter box. I will pre sign cards at both Churches ready for purchase.
• We have also been asked not to display any notices at the back of church except the poster with details of the Parish Safeguarding Representatives in case this causes people to “bunch up” whilst reading or looking at notices.
• Social distancing of 2 metres will be observed by all who are not living in the same household or sharing the same social bubble. Under the recent guidelines masks are now encouraged in churches (please provide your own).
• There will be no access to toilets or sinks. If you require water during Mass, please bring your own bottle of water with you.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.