Last week the Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson announced that on 4th July churches could start having services again. This is great news for us after about three months of no public Masses.
Earlier on, 19th of June, The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we opened the doors of our church for private prayers and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This has been largely successful with the help of our stewards who prepare the church, guide the pilgrims and clean after every use. To those parishioners who help to provide a secure environment for others to come in and pray, I am indeed very grateful.
Having passed the first stage of opening for private prayers and having fulfilled all the requirements stipulated in the Bishops’ Conference’s Guidance, I am putting arrangements in place to begin public Masses next Saturday at 10:00am. The church is marked for social distancing both for sitting or getting around. Approximately, we can seat 110 parishioners at every Mass. Entrance and exit doors are clearly signed for ease of movement and safety. To enable as many people as possible to attend Mass on Sundays I have obtained permission to celebrate Mass in St Mary’s Parish Centre in case we have a surge in the number of parishioners coming for any of our Family Masses. This contingency plan may allow two Masses to be held simultaneously at 9:15am and 12:15pm on Sundays.
Let us bear in mind that our bishops have maintained that Sundays and Holy Day Mass obligations do not apply at present. Let no one, therefore, gets soaked in the guilt of not being able to attend Mass as a result of government health regulations and restrictions, as they affect those shielding or in the vulnerable group.
Mass schedule from Saturday 4th July 2020, will be as follows:
Sunday 8am, 9:15am, 10:45am 12:15pm, 3pm & 6pm
Monday to Friday 10am & 6:45pm NB. (The 12:10 pm Mass will not be open to parishioners but may be accessed online)
Saturday 10am ; and & 7pm (1st Sunday Mass)
Please, take note of the following changes in the pattern of attending Mass during this time:
• Entrance to the church shall be through the forecourt ONLY while the glass door and the western door shall be for exit only.
• Church doors shall be opened 15 minutes before Mass.
• You shall be required to wear a facemask while in church.
• You shall have to sanitize your hands upon entering and leaving the church.
• Parish stewards will show you where to sit at Mass following social distancing rules. Please cooperate with them.
• Newsletters shall be collected at the entrance to the church. You should take your copy with you as you leave the church. Please do not leave on the pews.
• Baskets for offertory are placed on the tables at the back of the church. Put your offertory donation in the basket as you enter the church. We implore parishioners to consider setting up a Standing Order to facilitate their contribution to parish life.
• There will be no singing at Masses.
• There will be no bidding prayers.
• There will be no offertory procession.
• There will be no Kiss of Peace.
• The use of holy water stoups is suspended.
• Altar servers and choir groups shall not be functioning at the moment. Please bear with us.
• Communion shall be distributed ONLY at the end of Mass. Parishioners shall be ushered forward in an orderly manner to receive Holy Communion, and then immediately leave the church.
• After the prayer “Behold the Lamb of God” and its response the priest will hold up the Sacred Host to the congregation and say audibly “The Body of Christ” to which the people respond “Amen.” The same procedure is done for the Blood of Christ. Communion will be distributed in silence with no dialogue between minister and communicant.
• As you approach the priest at communion time, do so with arms at ‘full stretch’ so that there is a good distance between you and the priest.
• No visit is allowed at the moment to the Shrines of the Saints. No lighting of candles whether electronic or wax.
• There shall be no congregating in any form outside the church premises before or after Mass.
• The sacristy, the parish room and other meeting areas in the church are not accessible to anyone who is not a steward on duty, parish staff or sacristan.
• Baby buggies shall not be allowed into the church. They may be folded and kept in the porch area.
• NO TOILET FACILITIES IN THE PARISH AT THIS TIME OWING TO INFECTION PREVENTION GUIDANCE.
• After each Mass the church will be cleaned to ensure a safe environment for the next group of worshippers.
• If you are in need of the Sacrament of Confession, we have scheduled this to be held on Saturdays 10:30am and 6:30pm in the parish room. Stewards will guide you how to access the room.
If you are well enough and not in any vulnerable category, would you consider joining the Parish Stewardship Team, to enable you to offer your time and energy, your kindness and compassion in taking care of the needs of our parish at this time.
Finally, I entrust you and everyone in your family to the grace and mercy of our good God. May he bless, guide and protect us all. May the Holy Spirit assist us in the running of this next phase of our return to church for worship.
I remain yours in the service of the Lord.
Fr. Patrick Feyisetan
30th June 2020