Reopen for Public Worship but not normal yet
Since Monday 6th July, we’ve reopened for worship. This is wonderful news. How good it will be to start coming back to be physically with each other once again! We will be keeping two metres distance in our churches but this does not include distancing from the people you live with. Hand sanitiser is provided as you enter and leave the Church.
The first week of Masses will be at the following times, which will be the pattern going forward:
- Sundays 10am and 12noon at St Mary’s;
Sundays 5pm at the Good Shepherd
- Mondays 9.30am at St Mary’s
- Tuesdays 12.15pm at the Good Shepherd
- Tuesdays 7.30pm at St Mary’s
- Wednesdays 9.30am at St Mary’s
- Thursdays 9.30am at St Mary’s
- Fridays 9.30am at St Mary’s
- Saturdays 9.30am at St Mary’s
Numbers will be limited at these Masses. The ‘Sunday Obligation’ normally applies to Christians, meaning we should be at Mass every Sunday. This has not been restored yet but it would still be wonderful for you to come to Mass as much as possible. I don’t want to try to arrange certain people coming to this or that Mass but I hope you will be patient if you’re not able to enter because we’re full. One thing that will help is for you to come before the Mass begins so you can get settled in. Places will be marked in Church and you can sit with members of your household but not other people. Please maintain social distancing.
Face coverings, masks or visors should be worn by everyone coming in to Church. However, they can then be removed by individuals temporarily when doing the following things: (1) reading the Scripture Readings (2) the cantor singing (3) the priest celebrating the Mass (but should be worn when administering Holy Communion). Children under the age of 11 and those with particular mental or physical illness are not required to do so.
Holy Communion will be given in one kind, just the Host (under the form of bread). We know that when this happens we receive the Lord fully.
Baptisms, Funerals and Weddings can now happen in both churches, with a limit of thirty people attending.
Fr Morris is now keen to baptise those of your children who are eligible. Meeting to prepare parents and godparents is important and he would be keen to do this over Zoom or in the Vicarage Garden. Baptism can will only be able to happen on Sunday afternoons at 2pm. Currently this is the only time available as there is a 12noon Mass every Sunday to spread the congregation out.
You can now make your Confession. Arrange with Fr Morris or Fr Beer and you’ll meet in a locked church so that social distancing will be maintained with the seal of the confessional ensuring confidentiality.
Confirmations. Bp Jonathan sadly couldn’t come to confirm at the Good Shepherd in May because of lock down but we hope he will be able to come on 15th November to St Mary’s as planned. Confirmation Classes will begin again as normal in September. These will happen at 2pm on Sunday afternoons and more information will be out soon. Do start thinking and praying about this if you have not been confirmed, and/or have not been baptised and/or have not been admitted to Holy Communion and are over the age of 11. Speak to Fr Morris or Fr Rimmer if you have any questions.
Congregational singing is not allowed, according to the guidance. At the three Sunday Masses there will be someone singing hymns and an organist.
We’ve been working hard to ensure the audio of Sunday Masses will be broadcast outside (in the Vicarage Garden at St Mary’s and on Mitchley Road at the Good Shepherd). This will mean we have an overflow should that be necessary.
The clergy will continue to say the Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer). Books will not be provided for you as these can spread the disease but bring your own or listen and calmly unite yourselves to the prayers being said by the clergy.
It would be good to have a welcomer and a reader for all the Masses arranged in advance. The welcomer would arrive 30 minutes before and try to help people to find seats efficiently. If the churches become full the welcomer will the need to tell people arriving that there is no room. The reader would read the First Reading and the Psalm at Mass. Do let Fr Morris know on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8808 6644.
There will be no collections at the Mass. Your giving and donations can be left in the shrine boxes and donation boxes or through the letter box of the Parish Office. Electronic banking is the easiest way to do this too: St Mary’s Parochial Church Council (PCC) Barclays Account Number 90796212, Sort Code 20-53-00.
Sunday Schools on Zoom finish on 12th July so that teachers, children and families can be at Mass. We’ll start to put together social distanced opportunities for people to meet. If you’re bringing young children to Mass do consider providing toys for them as the ones usually available in our churches cannot be used because of the restrictions.
A few final bits of information:
- There will be no sharing of the Peace and no Holy Water.
- The WCs will be open.
- All Masses at St Mary’s will be in the Nave, where Mass was celebrated on Sunday before lockdown.
- The shop at St Mary’s will not be open.
- There will be no refreshments after Mass. Bring water with you.
This is a big step forward but we do have a long way to go before we reach normality: it’s going to feel odd when you come to Mass but I hope you will still come. Thank you for your prayers, your giving and your support.