Welcome to Sacramental Preparation:
12th September, 2020.
FINAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE CELEBRATION OF FIRST HOLY COMMUNION 2020:
Dear First Sacraments Parents,
As I said in my communication dated 3rd September, it was with deep regret that I found myself writing to you in March to inform you of the decision to suspend the First Sacraments Programme, in the light of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak and accompanying restrictions, and of the consequent need to cancel the First Holy Communion Mass on 7th June.
As you will be aware the suspension came just as the children completed their preparation for First Confessions, but prevented them from making them. It was fortuitous that when some of the children returned to school for a few days in July, I was able to arrange for them to make their confessions. At the end of July I emailed those parents whose children did not return during this time to ask them to make a private arrangement for their child’s confession, and I thank those parents who responded. If you did not receive this email, or have not as yet contacted me about your child’s First Confession, please do so as soon as possible.
Now that the school has re-opened I propose that classes will resume. This may of course need to be revised should a further lockdown come about. It has been decided, because of the current restrictions, that it is impracticable to open the church Hall for these and so they will take place in the church, where all the necessary measures are already in place in accordance with government guidance as is the provision for sanitisation of the space and a COVID-19 Risk Assessment has been completed. The protocol for the classes will be in line with those of our school. Classes will begin at 6pm and last for one hour. The parent’s only meeting on the Holy Eucharist will also take place in church, when parents will be expected to socially distance and wear face coverings. Please see the time-table to be found at the end of this letter.
Just to clarify in case any of you might be wondering after the announcement by the Government of the “Rule of 6” last week. In a letter sent to priests yesterday, Bishop Sherrington said: “It is important to recognise that the ‘Rule of 6’ applies to social gatherings and not to acts of public worship, work and structured educational and catechetical activities.”
It is now my expectation that your child’s attendance at Mass will resume from 3rd/4th October at the very latest. If you need reassurance, I am confident that the church space is as safe as any public space can be at this time, the Government guidelines for the opening of churches have been followed and a full risk assessment has been carried out and submitted to the Archdiocesan authorities. In addition to the sanitisation of the church after every opening, the church is given a professional deep clean weekly and non-touch hand-sanitising machines are positioned at the doors. Stewards will be on hand to guide you as to where to sit and will indicate to you when you are able to move from your place to come forward to receive Holy Communion.
There will be no need for Mass attendance cards as you are asked to book for the Mass through the Parish Microsite. To book via this Parish Microsite please go to parish.rcdow.org.uk/actonwest once on the site click “Events” in the blue left hand column, read the information and scroll down to the Blue Box “Book a Place” when all will become clear. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE EVENTS LINK FOR THIS ONLY GOES UP ON THURSDAY OF EACH WEEK. This is essential so that we do not breach the current regulations on social distancing; it is also to avoid possible disappointment if the numbers are too great. It is sufficient to have only the name and telephone number of one person in the family/couple/ household attending. If you are unable to access by this means please contact me and I will book you in. As part of this you will be asked to confirm that you give permission for NHS Test and Trace. If however, you do not book through this Microsite Ticketing System, you will be asked at the entrance to the church to complete a Form, giving your name and a contact telephone number and permission for NHS Test and Trace. Please note that since this ticketing method is on the Diocesan microsite system, it is secure and GDPR compliant. Twenty-one days after the Mass, the names and contact information for attendees will be deleted automatically. It is important that you do not come to Mass if you are feeling unwell. The Government requirement for a face covering to be worn is to be observed.
It will be possible for you to light candles at the images either before Mass begins or afterwards and hand sanitiser is available at each of the images, but, you are asked under no circumstances to touch the statues. Monies for candles should be placed in the appropriately marked collection box to be found at the entrance and exits of the church. There will be single use Mass leaflets available, if taken, please do not leave them in church, but take them away with you for disposal. There will be no congregational singing and the “cry room” and toilet are not accessible.
Entrance to the Sacristy will be restricted to me and any servers. A lidded ciborium of people’s wafers will be hygienically prepared in advance and placed on the credence table. The lid of which will only be removed by me immediately before I distribute Holy Communion.
The Mass will be celebrated with a shorter than normal homily and the Prayer of the Faithful will be omitted to minimise the time the congregation spend in the church. There will be no shared collection; donations should ideally be made online or via standing order. However, there are donation boxes for cash offerings available at the entrance and exits of the church. The congregation should not exchange the sign of peace.
At the time of Holy Communion, after the prayer and its response “Behold the Lamb of God…Lord I am not worthy,” l will hold up the Host before the congregation and say audibly “The Body of Christ” to which the congregation should respond “Amen.” In the same way, I will elevate the chalice and says, “The Blood of Christ” and again the congregation respond “Amen.” This will allow for Holy Communion to be distributed in silence without the normal dialogue between me and the communicant. I will then receive Holy Communion using my own Host and Chalice. Having received Holy Communion, I will sanitise my hands and remove the lid from the ciborium containing the people’s hosts. Holy Communion will be distributed by me alone from in front of the altar steps whilst standing behind a prie-dieu, so as to be socially distanced from the communicants. The faithful should wait in their pews until instructed to move forward to me for Holy Communion by the Stewards, always aware of the regulations on social distancing in the orderly queue, (floor markings are in place). When you approach me, you should do so with arms at “full stretch” so that there is a good distance between yourself and me. Your hands, palms upwards, one on top of the other, should be extended as flatly as possible. Having received Holy Communion, and consumed the Host in front of me, you should move back to your pews in an orderly manner. The congregation are asked to leave the church as quickly as possible and in an orderly manner; those facing the altar on the right hand side of the central aisle should leave by the two exit doors that side and those facing the altar on the left hand side of the central aisle by the central entrance doors.
Following on from my earlier communication, further thought has been given to the arrangements for your children’s First Holy Communion in the light of the concerns that some of you have expressed to me, most particularly consideration has been given to the possibility of private First Holy Communion Masses. As was my original thought, with the present restrictions these are not viable as they would involve additional protocol being put in place and with our numbers would necessitate an unacceptable proliferation of Masses. Further, if I understand the regulations correctly they would be considered to be what the Government Guidelines call “life cycle ceremonies” which are currently restricted to 30 people, a number among whom myself, any catechists and altar servers would need to be included.
As such further careful thought has been given to the weekend Masses at which First Holy Communions could take place and it has been decided to restrict them to the 11.15am. Mass. This has necessitated increasing the number of the weekends at which they can take place to four, namely: 15th, 22nd,29th November and 6th December, 2020. There will be a maximum of 7 children at each 11.15am. Mass, each child can be accompanied by the other members of their household and a maximum of two further adults from another household can be present. If any parents would prefer one of the other timed Masses over these weekends than please let me know. Please be clear that these will be ordinary Sunday Masses and will as things stand at the moment not have hymns or child involvement. If restrictions relax sufficiently in future months it might be that a Mass in Thanksgiving, which would bear closer resemblance to the usual First Holy Communion Mass, could be offered.
I am also happy to offer for your consideration, the possibility of your child resuming their classes on the Eucharist next year, joining for these sessions only, with the new cohort of Year 3 children and making their Holy Communion with them next summer, always subject of course to any restrictions that may then be in place. In addition I am happy to provide a letter once your child has completed their classes on the Eucharist which you can take to another priest, perhaps in a country where you have family and the restrictions are less severe, so that they can make their Holy Communion there. Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to avail yourself of either of these additional options.
My apologies for the length of this missive, but it seemed important to provide you with all the necessary arrangements so that you might feel more confident about things. With the assurance of my prayers for you and your family, that you all keep safe and well,
Father Neil Reynolds.
First Holy Communion Autumn 2020
Tuesday 6th October Parent’s Only Meeting 7.30pm.
Tuesday 13th October The Bread of Life & The Sacrifice of Jesus
Tuesday 20th October Jesus – God with us & Jesus – Our Saviour and our Guest
Tuesday 3rd November Jesus – is very near & It is right to give him thanks
(Fri 23rd October – 2nd November Half-Term)
Children’s Classes will begin at 6pm. and last for one hour. Classes and Parents Meeting will take place in the church.
Information regarding First Sacrament Preparation for 2021 will be available from the end of November 2020. In the meantime please read the following paragraph:
Dear Year 3 Parents,
In the light of the uncertainties and restrictions that we are all living through at this time, I am afraid I must advise you that the practice to date of inviting children in Year 3 from the School to prepare for their First Confession and Holy Communion here at Holy Family will no longer be possible, and that, as such, only those who reside within the Parish boundary, or have, to date habitually worshipped here and registered as Parishioners will be able to do so. Unless, therefore, you meet one or more of these criteria I regret that I must ask you to contact the Parish in which you reside to join their Programme of Preparation. I only mention this now, as I am conscious that some Parishes may already be inviting children to come forward to join their Programmes for 2021, and I would hate you to delay in approaching them and find that they have already closed their intake. Since the classes will only begin in January of 2021, details as to Registration will not be issued until the end of November, 2020, when the children enrolled in this year’s First Sacraments Programme have finished their classes and made their Holy Communions. If you are still not attending Mass by then, you will need to monitor the Parish Microsite, as further information will not be included in the School Newsletter.
With my best wishes,
Father Neil Reynolds.
CONFIRMATION 2021: If you are in Year 9 or above and would like to make your Confirmation in 2021 please collect a Registration Form from Father Neil as soon as possible and sign the List. Please return the completed Forms to Father Neil by 29th November, 2020 at the very latest. Candidates must collect these themselves.
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS: Would you like to become a Catholic? Would you just like to know more about the Catholic faith? Are you a Baptised Catholic but have never been Confirmed? Perhaps you are not a Catholic but are married to one and come to Mass with them? If so, then please speak to Father Neil.