Mass Guidelines

The regular celebration of Mass has resumed at St Philip’s, but the format of each Mass is different to what we have been used to.  In particular, Sunday Mass is shorter than previously, so that we can minimise the time we spend in close proximity to each other.  The following guidelines give an indication of the features you can expect in the coming weeks.

  • Due to social-distancing requirements, there is a maximum capacity of 50 people for each Mass.  (A household group of two people sitting together is classed as one person in determining this limit; a household group comprising three or more people is treated as two people.  “Household” includes the members of a “support bubble.”)
  • Anyone who is showing any of the symptoms of Covid-19, as well as every other member of their household, should not come to the church.
  • The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation remains suspended.  If you wish, you can attend Mass on a weekday instead, when there are normally fewer people present.
  • Booking is recommended for the Sunday Masses.  Click on the link for the Mass you wish to attend on the Events page, and then enter your name and phone number or email address.  Only one booking is required for a household group of up to five people who will sit together; specify the number of people in the group when you register.  Each booking is for one Mass only; you will need to book separately for each weekend, which you can do at any time from the preceding Monday.  No booking is currently required for weekday Masses, including Saturday morning.  In the event that someone who comes to the same Mass subsequently tests positive for Covid-19, your details may be used to provide you with information from the NHS Test and Trace service.  The details you provide will be deleted automatically 21 days after the date of the Mass for which you register.  You are given the option, when you book, of not allowing your details to be shared with the Test and Trace service.
  • Face coverings will be mandatory while you are in the church from this weekend (8th August) (apart from those who are exempt).  Ministers of the Word should remove their face coverings when they arrive at the lectern to begin their reading, but should replace them before leaving the lectern at the end of the reading.  They should then sanitise their hands before returning to their seat.
  • Entry to the church is via the main doors only, which are normally opened half an hour before each Mass.  Please maintain social distancing as you enter and move, as quickly as possible, to one of the available places in the church, indicated with a green marker.  Chevrons are provided in the main aisle to help maintain a 2-metre distance.
  • Hand-sanitising units are available and should be used on entry and exit.  They are pedal-operated – hold your hand under the dispenser and then press the pedal with your foot.
  • Toilets are not available at the moment.
  • There will be no singing during Mass for the time being.
  • Shared books are not in use.
  • Holy water is not available at present.
  • Votive candles may be lit on the candle stands around the church, but please use the hand sanitiser provided after lighting a candle.  The church has to be closed for cleaning as soon as possible after Mass, so it is preferable to light candles before Mass begins.
  • Copies of the newsletter are available at the back of the church.  They include the words of the Gloria and Creed, and the Sunday responses for the Liturgy of the Word.  Once used, those copies should not be left in the church.  They should be taken home, together with any personal items you bring to the church with you.  Recent issues of the weekly newsletter can also be read online via the News page.  You can use the e-Alerts service to have the latest copy emailed to you every week.
  • Sit near the end of a bench, or on one of the chairs, as indicated.  You will not be permitted to stand or sit anywhere else in the church, including the porch.  Those who sit on a chair which doesn’t have a kneeler in front of it can make use of the kneeler attached to the back of their chair.  It is recommended that those who come to Mass alone sit on one of the chairs near the sides of the church to leave benches available for family groups.
  • A number of seats around the church have notices indicating that they should not be used.  Do not sit on any of those notices unless you are in a household group of three or more people sharing one of the benches marked with green symbols.
  • Special arrangements are in place for the distribution of Holy Communion.  Follow the social-distancing markings as you come forward in single file along the main aisle, one row at a time, starting from the front of the church.  There is a barrier at the point where Holy Communion is administered to separate the Minister from the Communicant.  Stretch your hands out straight in front of you to receive Holy Communion at one of the designated positions.  Unloop your face covering in order to consume the sacred host, and then replace the face covering before you return to your place via the side aisle.
  • Holy Communion is received in silence.  Before the distribution of Holy Communion, the priest holds up the sacred host at the altar and announces, “The Body of Christ” to which everyone responds together, “Amen.”  There should be no further dialogue when you receive Holy Communion.  Ministers of Communion should remove their face covering while they are receiving Holy Communion themselves, but should then replace their face covering before sanitising their hands and distributing Holy Communion to others.
  • There is no offertory collection for the time being, but boxes are provided in the church in which you can place your offering, before or after Sunday Mass.  There is also a wall box in the main porch in which you can place your donations for the parish.  The preferred method of giving is by direct payment to the parish bank account.  You can find the details on the Donations page.  You can also now donate to the parish using Virgin Money Giving.
  • Please leave the church as quickly as possible after Mass, via the nearest exit, to allow the building to be closed for cleaning.  Maintain a social distance from those outside your household group or support bubble at all times.  Move away from the entrance to make room for others to leave after you, and to minimise unnecessary personal contact.

We look forward to the time when we can regain a fuller sense of community, but the ability to share the Eucharist together once again is an important step on that journey.