Bishop John’s Message on Reopening of Churches for Private Prayer

Tuesday 16th June 2020

Message from Bishop John

The diocese is currently considering which churches can be safely opened for private prayer  and how this will be effectively managed. Before they can open, parishes must undertake a thorough Risk Assessment, following guidance from guidelines issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, agreed with the government.

Not all churches will be able to re-open at once. It is intended that several named churches, spread around the Diocese, will be ready to open for private prayer, and are currently being prepared. Other churches will follow as quickly as it can be assured that they are able to fulfil the conditions for cleanliness, and social distancing. All parishes will be assisted in these preparations.

We also need to be mindful that our churches will look and feel different during this period. These changes are essential to ensure the safety of all our people.

Parishioners will still not be able to come to Mass at this stage but Mass can still be accessed via live stream. It is likely to be several more weeks or months before we will be able to celebrate Mass publicly and, even when that is possible, social distancing will limit the numbers of people able to attend – even in our largest church buildings. We must all be patient. We are under no obligation to attend Mass during this time, and making spiritual communion is a powerful way to welcome Christ into our lives at home.

I am so impressed by the many creative ways that people have found to encourage each other in prayer. Hopefully, this will continue in our journey ahead, centred on Christ and guided in prayer. We will continue to share resources for praying at home on the diocesan website.

Stay with us Lord on Our Journey


To illustrate some of the practical measures we have put in place to ensure the safety as we move into this new phased reopening of some of our churches, we have produced a video which you can watch below.

To view our latest updates please visit our Covid-19 updates page.  You can find a list of which Churches will be opening and at what times, along with Frequently Asked Questions, by clicking here.  We will regularly update the page as more churches begin to reopen.

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