8th August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I am pleased to be able to attach this weekend’s Newsletter and Readings for Holy Mass together with a greeting sent in the hope that you are keeping well and safe.

From this weekend there will be a significant change in our coming together for Holy Mass, as it is now mandatory to wear a face-covering (supplied by yourselves) in our churches, and other Places of Worship. There are, of course exemptions. It is advisable that you put your face-covering on before entering either of our church porches, and then go through the, now, usual, process of registration and sanitising your hands. For our Stewards and Ministers of the Word I have obtained Face Shields and these may be collected at the beginning of your next ministry. New guidance has been given for our Ministers of the Word in relation to this new requirement.

Ministers of the Word are to wear a face covering when entering church and making their way to their position on the Sanctuary (where they are seated with members of their household). When preparing to proclaim the Word, they should remove the face covering in order to proclaim the Word. The covering then should be replaced on the completion of each of the two parts of their ministry i.e. (1) The Word and (2) the Prayers of the Faithful. We are only able to do this because our Lecterns are 2 meters away from the congregation and myself, as the celebrant. If the space was less, the face covering would need to be worn throughout. The same applies to myself, behind the Altar, but when distributing Holy Communion, I shall now have to wear a face covering.

In regard to face coverings and the reception of Holy Communion. I shall give instructions about the removal of your face covering for the receiving the Lord in Holy Communion at the appropriate time during Holy Mass.

Hopefully that guidance was relatively clear. No doubt as we get used to these changes, what we are being asked to do will become second nature.

We continue to welcome parishioners back to Holy Mass and it is a joy to do so. One returning parishioner on seeing me asked if I’d managed to find things to keep me busy during Lockdown !!! A number of parishioners (and ‘virtual’ parishioners from far away) have said that they’re missing my letters. With the opening of our churches, and an easing in restrictions initially, I thought that I would be seeing more parishioners face to face, rendering my ramblings void, however, as returning numbers are small and the process gradual, I can only say that my time is now spent in new ways. Incredibly I spend about fives hours a week just at the doors of our churches, welcoming people, engaging with them, and (I’d like to think !) assisting our fabulous volunteer Stewards. Whilst others could do this, I’ve always been a pastoral priest, and being with the people I serve is a priority to me. So, perhaps an odd letter may appear every now and again, but I cannot promise anything ! New times also mean learning new skills. Rather than reading faces, we will all have to learn to read the eyes that we can see above the face coverings.

Wishing you a good week, and continuing good health. Be assured of prayerful support, remembrance and affection,

Fr. Nicholas

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