Latest Updates on Covid-19
Tuesday 23rd June
An announcement was made by the Prime Minister stating that some restrictions on public worship will be eased from 4 July. We are keen that our community’s safety remains our priority. In this diocese it will mean that churches will open but not immediately.
Bishop John said: “Very few churches in this Diocese will open for Mass next Sunday. That is because there are numerous rules and regulations and conditions that need to be in place to do with social distancing, cleansing, the stewarding of people and indeed the Church must be deep cleaned after every service. That is going to rely on any number of volunteers and not all churches will be able to meet those conditions by next weekend. And let us be clear about this too, even those few churches, and others will follow on as quickly as possible, even those few churches will have a much reduced capacity.”
The livestreaming of Holy Mass will continue.
Monday 15th June
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. The video below illustrates what some of our churches may look like as they begin to open for private prayer. Churches are continuing to livestream Holy Mass.
What does this mean for Liturgical Events?
Some of our churches are beginning to reopen for public and private prayer, but liturgical events will continue to be impacted. The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.
Celebrations of Holy Mass
In line with the government’s easing of restrictions on public worship, churches are able to resume public worship and the Holy Mass from 4 July with various practicalities put into place. Safety remains our priority and each parish will open in its own time. Bishop John has encouraged us to do three things:
- When more churches begin to open for the public celebration of Mass, maybe we might think about attending a weekday Mass to help ease Sunday capacity
- That any elderly person, anyone with any frailty or underlying medical condition, shouldn’t consider trying to attend Mass at this time
- That if your own parish church is not opening for the public celebration of Mass you wait until it does so without looking for other churches which will have their own restricted capacity for their parishioners.
In addition Bishop John reminded us that there is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass at this time. That obligation will return in the future when we can gather freely in our churches again.
If you do choose to attend Mass in your parish, the experience may feel and look slightly different for a while as numbers may be limited, social distancing must be adhered to and collections and processions will be limited to prevent the spread of infection.
Baptisms are able to take place but there are still restrictions in place on the number of people able to be present. Please contact your parish priest for further information.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is able to resume in some parishes but will be conducted differently to ensure that it is done in as safe a way as possible. Confession can now take place outdoors or inside, in an open space. At this time the use of traditional confessionals is not encouraged.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered on a parish by parish basis when it is safe to do so. If you have any further questions, please contact your parish priest.
First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion
These celebrations will be postponed until a time that allows for families and friends to gather safely within our churches.
The celebrations of Confirmation will be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can resume public worship.
Matrimony is now permitted but there continue to be restrictions on how many can safely gather to celebrate this.
If you have any questions, please contact your parish priest.
Anointing of the Sick
No pastoral visits should be made to people who are self-isolating with Covid 19 symptoms until the isolation period ends. However, priests can offer phone support.
Please contact your Parish Priest to discuss how they can best offer support.
Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control
If you need to arrange a funeral please contact your parish priest as soon as possible. There continue to be restrictions on the amount of people who can safely gather for a Requiem Mass.
Live Masses and Resources Online
Further information and updates on national situation
This is a rapidly evolving situation and latest updates can be found on the Gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england