Seventh Sunday of Easter, 2020
With the possibility of a phased reopening of our schools in the near future, many of you may be wondering when our churches might reopen.
The Government has established a “Places of Worship Task Force” which includes leaders and representatives from all the major faiths in our country, to develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship when the evidence shows it is the right time to do so. Cardinal Vincent Nichols is representing the Catholic Church.
It is likely that initially only a small number of churches will be allowed to reopen and for private prayer only. Bishop Robert has written to the priests and deacons of our Diocese informing us that his utmost priority, when it comes to the reopening of our churches, will be the health and safety of the priests, deacons and all parishioners.
Whilst awaiting guidance from the Bishops’ Conference and from the Government Task Force, the Diocese is developing plans which will enable the COVID-19 secure reopening of our buildings.
Bishop Robert envisages that a very small number of churches will be selected to pilot the reopening procedures which will be treated as a “dry run.” He goes on to say that what we learn from these “dry runs” will be incorporated into developing the approach which will be taken across the Diocese to allow more churches to open.
To ensure that we all return to safe environments, there is much that needs to be done and the Diocesan Curia is supporting Bishop Robert with these practical tasks. The reopening planning will include conversations with the Parish Priest and key workers of the parishes he chooses to reopen, after which the Diocesan Property Department will prepare and undertake site-specific risk assessments to develop protocols and procedures which must be put in place to enable a church to reopen safely and securely. Full compliance with these Diocesan protocols and procedures will be a requirement for all clergy and all volunteers so that the opening of our churches is safe and shown to be safe.
Parishes which will be chosen to reopen in this first phase must have sufficient volunteers (key workers) to be available to monitor adherence to these protocols such as social distancing regulations, attending to the cleaning and sanitising of each church after each period of opening and, for security purposes, to ensure that open churches are not left unattended. Obviously Bishop Robert will only choose those churches which can provide sufficient “key workers.” Further details and suitable training will be given to all volunteers as the situation develops.
If one or other of our churches might be considered by the Bishop to reopen in this pilot scheme, we would need to assure him that we have sufficient volunteers to fulfil the requirements laid down by the Task Force and the Bishops’ Conference. If you would be prepared to help in either church should we be chosen, please send me an email to that effect stating the amount of time you would be able to give and what assistance you would be able to offer. Volunteers should not be in any of the Government’s vulnerable or at risk categories.
The Government is very much aware of the importance of public worship for all faith communities. As the Faith Minister Lord Greenhalgh said in a statement on 15th May: “Places of worship serve such an important role in supporting and providing spiritual leadership for this country’s diverse communities and in bringing communities and the generations together, but this also makes them places that are currently particularly vulnerable to the spread of the pandemic.”
In the meantime we must be patient, continue with our prayers at home and not allow ourselves to be misled by “Fake news!”
Mass to view on line
Bishop Robert Barron or Fr. Steve Grunow from Word on Fire, continue to celebrate daily Mass from the bishop’s private chapel which is available anytime after 13.15 UK time.
More information and support may be found on our Diocesan website.
I continue to celebrate Mass privately every day. The following Intentions will be remembered this week.
- Monday – Teresa Smith
- Tuesday – Tony Roberts
- Wednesday – Patrick & Rose Wright and Patricia Jameson
- Thursday – The sick, NHS & Care Workers
- Friday – Brian Grace Jnr
- Saturday – Fr “P’s” Intentions
- Sunday – For the intentions of all our parishioners
As you are unable to celebrate Mass with me, you may wish to make this act of spiritual communion:
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
Masses for the Sick and their Families, NHS Front-Line workers and those working in Social Care
Every Thursday one of our Bishops will be celebrating a special evening Mass for the sick, their families, NHS staff, and those working in Social Care.
Mass this coming Thursday, 28th May, will be celebrated by Bishop Terence Drainey from Middlesbrough Cathedral at 19.00.
The celebration of Mass in church along with the celebration of all other Sacraments and sacramentals is suspended until such time as we are allowed to reopen our churches.
Funeral Masses and Funeral Services are not permitted in our churches. A simple funeral service may be celebrated at the graveside or at the crematorium where numbers attending are limited. These Local Authority restrictions are made in the light of the latest guidance from the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management and central Government. The funeral director will guide you in this regard.
Please keep in your prayers this week:
- all our parishioners who are sick, housebound or in hospital and,
- all those near and dear to us whose memories we cherish at this time especially Patrick & Rose Wright and Patricia Jameson
A Prayer for Carers, Nurses and Doctors
Lord Jesus, who healed the sick and gave them new life, be with doctors, nurses and carers, as they act as agents of your healing touch.
In desperate times, keep them strong yet loving; and when their work is done, be with them in their weariness and in their tears. Amen.
Prepare for the Feat of Pentecost
From the Feast of the Ascension to the Feast of Pentecost, Church members often pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit , not only for ourselves but for the wider family of the Church.
Why not spend time in prayer with this Novena to the Holy Spirit by the composer Dan Schutte. He writes:
“It’s been many years since I last made a novena, nine days dedicated to prayer. But if there’s ever a moment when we all could use the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, it’s now. While we wait till we can be together again for Sunday worship, this is a way we can join our hearts in prayer, as those first disciples did, and wait in hope to receive the Comforter, the Spirit of Jesus.”
Your weekly offering is greatly valued and is our sole source of income
As our churches remain closed Fr. Patterson would ask those of you who may feel able, in what I am aware are difficult times for us all financially, to consider contributing your weekly offering by bank transfer directly into the parish account. It will help us meet our ongoing financial commitments. I am very grateful to those of you who have already chosen to do so.
Alternatively, you may wish to send a cheque made payable to the appropriate Account name below or you might put aside your envelopes each week and bring them along to church once we can reopen and celebrate Mass and socialise together.
The details for bank transfers
St. Alban’s HSBC bank account name: DHN Pelaw St Alban, Sort code: 40-34-18, Account No: 92010984
St. Patrick’s HSBC bank account name: DHN Felling St Patrick, Sort code: 40-34-18, Account No: 52010453
And finally …
More information and support may be found on our Diocesan website.