13 June 2020: Reopening of churches for Private Prayer

From Monday, 15th June 2020, Catholic Churches in England are being allowed to open for individual private prayer. The conditions for this are that social distancing, stewarding and sanitizing arrangements have been put in place and agreed. This does not mean that every church in our Diocese will be able to open immediately, and it may be that some churches will not be able to open for some time. Please, do be patient and understanding; there may be a number of very good reasons why individual churches will not be able to re-open straightaway.

Individual parishes will publish the opening times and days of when the church will be open. This will depend very much on the availability of volunteer stewards and with social distancing arrangements having been put in place. Please continue to check the websites of your local Catholic churches and the Diocesan website for further information.

8th June: Re: Reopening of Churches for Private Prayer

Dear Parishioners,

I am sure that like myself you delighted to hear some good news from the Government this weekend in regard to the gradual opening up of elements of our culture and society which were so hastily, but rightly and necessarily, closed at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. One aspect of this, dear of our hearts, was the announcement that from next week Places of Worship will be allowed to open for Private Prayer. Cardinal Vincent Nichols said, on behalf of us all, that he was “grateful for this development.” He went on to say that “Not every Catholic church will reopen on 15th June” and local decisions and provision will be necessary to lead this process. These final comments were in line with his earlier statement: “It is important that every care is taken to ensure that the guidance given for this limited opening is fully observed, not least by those entering our churches. Our preparation is taking place with thoroughness [allowing visits to] a church for individual prayer, benefiting from the sacredness of that space, [to be] done safely and confidently.”

It would be my hope that our churches could open their doors for Private Prayer possibly as early as sometime next week. In order for this to be done, in accordance with guidance already given, and more yet to come, help will be needed. Hence a Monday e-mail, in an attempt to throw wide the net and invite parishioners to let me know if they would be interested / able to assist in the role of Steward.

At this time I am just seeking names and a contact number, as I am awaiting the full guidance which will be given by the Diocese later this week. However there are known limits on who can act as a Steward. The initial two are (a) age (you must be under-70 years of age, and not live with anyone over-70) and (b) not be in a vulnerable category or live with someone in a vulnerable category. ‘Vulnerable’ categories include age, but also various underlying health conditions. So if you are in either of these categories, sadly you will not be able to fulfil this role.

If you can help, please let me know in a separate e-mail.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

All very best wishes,

Fr. Nicholas


Fr Michael Sullivan R.I.P. 21/5/2020

Dear Parishioners ,

It is with sadness that I write to let you know of the death of Fr Michael Sullivan, one of my predecessors as Parish Priest of Holy Spirit. He died earlier today (Thursday 21st May) at home in his flat at Otley, following a short but aggressive illness. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Following Ordination to the Priesthood on 10th March 1973, Fr Michael served at St Mary’s, Maltby from 1973 to 1980, St Mary’s, Halifax from 1980 to 1982, St Walburga’s, Shipley from 1982 to 1986, St Mary’s, Cottingley from 1986 to 1991, St Aelred’s, Harrogate from 1991 to 1997, St Austin’s, Wakefield from 1997 to 1998, St Mary’s, Bradford from 1998 to 2002, Holy Spirit, Heckmondwike from 2002 to 2006, St Clare’s, Bradford from 2006 to 2007 and lastly for a few months at Leeds Cathedral before his retirement from holding parochial office.

There are no details of any funeral arrangements at this early stage, but when these are known I shall publish them on the Newsletter. It is more than likely that the Funeral, like that of other priests who have died recently, will be held under our current restrictions.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.