Resumption of Mass

Churches across our diocese are gradually beginning to reopen for the celebration of Mass, though there are limits on capacity in line with social distancing guidelines and churches must complete a thorough risk assessment before being able to open.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a situation which is continuing to evolve and develop.

On 31 July increased lockdown restrictions were placed on Greater Manchester and East Lancashire which covers a large part of our diocese.

Currently places of worship are not permitted to open for public Mass. However, some churches may open for private prayer.

To find out whether your parish is open please contact your parish office directly. Parish contact details can be found in our directory.

Safety when attending Mass

From 8th August the Government has announced that face-coverings will be mandatory in indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with people they do not know. This now includes churches.

Those that are exempt for medical reasons or children under 11 remain exempt in these settings

​Face-coverings can be removed by readers as they read the scriptures. The Priest and, if used, Eucharistic Ministers need only wear a face-covering when off the sanctuary and distributing Communion, which must be in the hand.

The experience of Mass and visiting a Church will feel different due to some of the safety features which have been put into place. You can find out more in the infographic below.

Steward Training Resources

If you are a steward looking for training resources you will find these here:

You can download the presentation by clicking here.

You can watch the training video by clicking here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I attend Mass?

It remains a person’s own choice whether they to come to church for Mass. If you are in the vulnerable category you should consider whether this is safe for you to do.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days remains suspended at this time.

Bishop John has asked us to consider three things:

1. 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.

2. That any elderly person, anyone with any frailty or underlying medical condition, shouldn’t consider trying to attend Mass at this time

3. 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.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of Covid- 19 you should not come to a church. If you display symptoms you may be advised not to enter.

Can I visit with my family?

You can visit with your family as long as you are part of the same household. People who are part of the same household can sit together but those not from the same household should maintain social distancing while in church.

We advise that those under 16 years old do not enter the church unaccompanied.

Will all churches open?

No, it may not be possible to open all our churches. We will open several named churches, spread around the Diocese initially. Other churches will follow as quickly as it can be assured that they are able to fulfil the conditions for cleanliness, and social distancing.

For some churches it may not be possible for them to open at all, but we will ensure that churches that can open are available across the diocese.

I'm a steward. How can I continue to ensure a culture of safeguarding in my parish?

A presentation has been produced by the Safeguarding office for those volunteering in their parishes.  The guidance in this presentation will help us all to continue to be mindful and create a culture of vigilance during Covid-19 and the phased reopening of some of our churches for private prayer.

You can download the presentation by clicking here.

You can watch the training video by clicking here. 

If you have any more questions please discuss with your parish safeguarding representative or contact the Safeguarding team on 0161 817 2206 and leave a clear message with your name and phone number. A member of the team will then return your call.

What are you doing to make the churches safe?

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have worked with Public Health England and the Government to provide clear guidelines to open our churches safely, which minimises the risk of virus transmission.

If visiting a church you will find:

  • From 8 August, wearing a face covering when attending a church is mandatory.
  • Stewards will be available to ensure that hand sanitisation occurs at entry and exit points, social distancing is maintained by people in the church and if a pre-determined capacity is reached, they will be unable to allow others to enter the building, until someone else exits the church.
  • Alcohol hand gel will be provided at the doors, with notices asking people to sanitise their hands as they enter and leave the church.
  • Toilet facilities in churches will remain closed to prevent any risk of transmission of infection.
  • Hymn books, missals, devotional materials etc which may be re-used will be removed from the church.
  • There will be no holy water in church stoups.
  • Physical veneration of relics or objects such as statues, crucifixes and shrines is not permitted.
What about lighting candles?

We understand that for many the lighting of candles/votive lights can be an aid to prayer. It will be up to individual churches to decide whether this can be offered.

If you wish a candle/votive light to be lit, please observe all the safety notices in place.