Dear Brothers and Sisters, God be praised! Our churches can be open for worship again from today. We have made all the necessary preparations to ensure that people can once again return to the Lord’s house and receive the sacraments – which are so vital to our life as Christians. This has involved a lot of hard work for which those responsible need to be thanked.
Let me say that it has grieved me to be at the altar without you. It is not natural or normal for a priest to offer Mass without his people. However, I have done it for your good and for the good of all the Church.
The Mass is so much more than a mere communal meal – it is the very gift of God’s own self to us. It is His love, it is His forgiveness, it is His Calvary and His resurrection, it is His everlasting Passover, it is the foretaste of heaven, it contains for us everlasting life, and it is our partaking in the life of God, it is our gateway to heaven. It is essential to our life as Christians and without it there are inevitable consequences to our spiritual lives.
We shall be open from Sunday 5th. We shall be open from Sunday 5th. But we all need to understand that the ‘new normal’ will not be like the ‘old normal’ –
at least not for now. The government permission to open for worship, as with permissions for shops, hotels etc., comes with strict conditions. In order to keep everyone as safe as possible, we shall try our very best to keep to the rules. But before I explain how this will work, it is important that I make some conditions very clear.
Although the government permission means that there is once again a legal requirement for Sunday worship in parish churches, the bishops have kept in place the dispensation from attendance at Sunday Mass. This means that anyone who, for any valid reason feels unable to attend, should consider themselves absolutely free to stay at home.
Further, the following should NOT attend: Anyone with symptoms or suspected symptoms of Covid -19 Anyone who has been in recent contact with someone with Covid – 19 symptoms Anyone in a vulnerable or shielding category Anyone who is self-isolating
We will continue to live stream the 10.30am Parish Mass from Goldthorpe for the time-being for those who cannot be with us just yet.
There is also a strong recommendation (which we shall implement) that we collect simple contact details for all who attend. This will enable us to make contact should any member of a particular congregation contracts Covid – 19.
In practical terms there are regulations as to how the service runs: There will be hand hygiene points at the entrance and the exit with clear signs to ask people to use them Books and re-usable orders of service may not be handed out. We are using single use leaflets which you must take away with you. For the time being there can be no singing, although we shall have organ music at various points in each Sunday service There will be no common cup and no exchanging of the peace Communion will be received in one kind standing at the chancel step, in the hands, with arms outstretched No collections will be taken. There will be plates for cash or envelopes, but please note, cash poses a risk of infection, not least for those who must handle and count it. (Ideally as many people as possible should switch to standing order.) There will be no gathering before or after the service (though of course, if the weather is fine, there is nothing to prevent a socially distanced chat in the grounds – but not in groups of more than two households or six individuals!) There will be no public toilets available
At Goldthorpe from today there will be the following services each week
Sunday 10.30am Monday 8am Tuesday 7pm Wednesday 9am Friday 10.30am Saturday 9am
At Hickleton: Sunday 9am Thursday 10am
At Bolton Sunday 10.30am Tuesday 10am Thursday 6.30pm
This all sounds very complicated – but we will soon get into a rhythm – and God willing, things will gradually get easier and more ‘normal.’
I so look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at worship. But don’t forget, even if you are not able to be present, we shall be offering mass and praying with or for you all. If anyone would like to be particularly prayed for please be in touch.
Please remember! As with everything to do with the pandemic, things can change very quickly!
With love and prayers,