My dear people, as 'lockdown' eases our Bishop has written to us about the possibility of resuming the public offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
His Lordship suggests we "discourage people from coming back to Mass at this time" and says he "would endorse the decision of any priest to delay the public celebration of mass, weddings, funerals and baptism at this time" reminding us that "at this time there is no obligation to attend mass on Sundays".
"If", the Bishop says, "a church is open for Mass it would be wise to have the first celebration on a weekday".
However, at the same time the Bishops of England and Wales have published a letter which clearly envisages the resumption of Sunday Masses and lists the conditions to be observed when Holy Mass is offered.
Guidance for celebration of Mass
Guidance for Confessions
These conditions, which are expected to be observed in our parishes include social distancing,
no admittance to church if safety numbers are exceeded, respect for guidance given by stewards, no singing, no missals and the distribution of Holy Communion after the end of Mass.
The documents also speak of the danger of face to face interactions and so face masks should be worn and I will also be offering Mass, where possible, ‘ad orientem’ facing away from the main body of the church and looking towards the tabernacle as a further small way of reducing risk.
Families may sit together. Others should observe social distancing. For the time being the capacity of each church is fixed at 30.
Experimentally, trying to satisfy both the suggestions of our Bishop and the other Bishops, as well as the desire of people to be able to attend Holy Mass again, from Monday, 6th July:
Holy mass will be offered at 8am
Monday - St. Wulstan’s
Wednesday - St. Wulstan’s
Friday - St. Mary’s
When the volunteers at St Hubert’s feel ready we will have a Mass there too.
This means the Church opening times for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament are changed to:
St Wulstan: Fri, Sat 9am - 10am
St Mary: Wed 11am - 12 noon
Our Lady and St Hubert: Tues, Thurs 10am - 11am
If this goes well we can look towards a resumption of Sunday Masses. The situation is constantly changing. Please check the website regularly.
Volunteers are still urgently required to help. It could be as simple as spending one hour a week in church as a steward, encouraging people keep their distance and use the correct exit and entry doors. Please consider volunteering and someone will contact you.