It is with sadness that I have to inform you that, due to the ongoing Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the Bishops of England & Wales have announced the suspension of all public liturgies in our churches and chapels from Friday evening. This includes the public celebration of Mass and the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time has been lifted. Obviously this necessary action will cause pain to us all. I will celebrate Mass without a congregation each day at St Mary’s and you will all be very much in my heart and prayer. The Mass will be live streamed to our parish website where you will be able to participate from your own home. This can include making a “Spiritual Communion” at the normal time for Holy Communion. Mass will be celebrated at 9.30am Monday – Saturday and at 11am on Sunday. Given the advice of the diocese and Public Health England, it will not be possible to open our churches safely and, therefore they will remain closed until future notice.
Catholic generations before us have upheld the faith and embraced the mission of Christ to spread the faith even when they were prevented from attending Holy Mass. The Catechism tells us that “The family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (CCC 1666). The Domestic Church, in your home, affords us the opportunity to re-introduce or re-invigorate the practice of devotional prayer. This can include the Holy Rosary, the Angelus and other traditional prayer at home, supplemented by, for example, your own private Stations of the Cross. We will place various prayer resources on the website that you may find of help to your private prayer at home during this time.
As a parish our commitment to pastoral care remains undiminished. So I would urge you to call or email Deacon John or me to let us know if you are having to self-isolate or if you know of parishioners who are so that we may remain in contact as a parish through this difficult time. Indeed, please provide the details of any parishioner who would welcome a call during this period of isolation. This will enable the parish to keep contact with them by telephone and to assist them where we can.
I appreciate that this news will be read with heavy hearts but let us remain united in prayer and in our prayer for all who are ill and our medical staff at this time. Bishop Marcus’ words aptly offer us some comfort,
“In this time of isolation, it is vital that we remain conscious of being united as sons and daughters of God our Father, that we are members of the one Body of Christ, His Church, and that we share communion with each other in the Holy Spirit”.