ST THEODORE’S HAMPTON – REOPENING FOR PUBLIC MASS
At last we are able to come together again for Mass. We have all missed it very much, both the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and also the sense of being gathered as a community. Of course, in reality we are still in “Corona Time”. The bishops have asked us to be clear that getting back into church is not getting back to the way things were. The immediate objective was to give back to us access to the Eucharist, which is the central act of our faith. These notes are intended as practical guidance for the new situation, respecting Government regulations and keeping us as safe as possible. They may well have to be modified once we see how things turn out.
Back to normal: Saturday 6.30pm, Sunday 8.30am and 1030am. NB In addition, Holy Communion will be available after the 1030 Mass until 12 Noon.
Social distancing is reduced to one metre (please observe this), although of course members of the same household may sit together. Face coverings are required (but only for Mass). Please bring with you.
The church will be cleaned between 12 noon on Wednesdays (i.e. 72 hours after the last Sunday Mass) and 12 noon on Saturdays.
Starting on Wednesday 15 July – once I return from my Easter break! – the normal schedule will resume: Monday-Wednesday 9.30am, Friday 6.30pm.
Face coverings are not required on weekdays, so social distancing stays at 2 metres.
Please (with the supplied cleaning agents) clean – as with existing arrangements for weekday private prayer – the place where you sit – both before and after. After weekday morning Masses the church will for the time being remain open for private prayer until 11.00am.
Limited capacity – With whatever degree of social distancing having to stay in place we will obviously not be able to fit in as many people as before, for the time being. If it’s clear that it’s not possible to sit anywhere and at the same time respect the necessary distance it may be necessary come back another time. Please understand the reasons for this, should it come to pass.
A weekday Mass instead? – For now, there is still no obligation to attend weekend Mass. So perhaps a weekday Mass might be a less crowded alternative.
Receiving Holy Communion – At every Mass Holy Communion will be distributed as normal, but with some small changes.
*While waiting in line to receive Holy Communion, please keep the necessary social distance from the person in front.
*There will not be the usual “Body of Christ. Amen” exchange of words.
*The minister will hand-sanitise before and after Holy Communion, as well as after any accidental finger contact.
*Holy Communion will only be available on he hand (not the tongue).
*Holy Communion will only be available as the Body of Christ. The Blood of Christ will still not be available.
The Collection – As you will appreciate, amongst other consequences of our compulsory closure the parish finances have suffered considerably. Our income has been restricted to those contributions coming in by Standing Order – always, incidentally, the best and most efficient method both for parishioners and the parish. The shortfall has been around £700 per week, or £3000 per month. Naturally, any contributions which can help “bridge the gap” will be most welcome! But we recognise that many people will not be in a position to do much about this – in which case please do not be concerned. In any case, there will be a basket for your contributions at the entrance/exit (for obvious reasons, we are not allowed to pass the collection bags round). Also, labelled boxes of envelopes for the current year are available on the table near the entrance. There is also a supply of new Standing Order forms for those who would like to start one.
Any problems? I don’t expect the new arrangements will go perfectly smoothly without any hitches. Some things may go wrong at first. Some of the arrangements described here may need to be modified. Please be patient and I am confident we will get through! Let us keep the parish and each other in our prayers.