The Return to Public Worship in our Churches
Dear Parishioners, as you will have heard, the Government is relaxing the current regulations and allowing certain events to take place from 4th July: among these, are acts of public worship. The Cardinal addresses this new situation in a video which can be accessed on the Westminster diocesan website, while specific guidelines and requirements are set out on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still in abeyance. The Bishops ask individuals to consider attendance at a weekday Mass to reduce the possible pressure on space and time on Sundays.
It is intended that public services will begin again at in Saint Thomas More starting on Saturday 4th July at 6.00 p.m. and Sunday 5th July at 10.00 and 12.00 noon. Mass on Monday and Friday is at 9.00am and on Wednesday at 10.00 am. The maximum capacity of the Church during this time before normality is 30 people. Please wear a mask and gloves and remember at this point in time the toilets are not in use, there is no music, the Mass is intentionally short and parishioners are asked to talk outside the Church. I look forward to meeting you again.
God bless you
A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We recently heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions onhow they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches, and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.
The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.
We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our priests for celebrating Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means. We are grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward.
With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully along the path that lies ahead. Our lives have been changed by the experience of the pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were before lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now rebuild what it means to be Eucharistic communities, holding fast to all that we hold dear, while at the same time exploring creative ways to meet changed circumstances.
It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended. A significant number of churches may remain closed as they are unable to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Fulfilling these requirements is a precondition for any church opening after the 4th July for the celebration of Mass with a congregation.
Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social distancing requirements. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal.’
We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Our priests may need to consider whether it is possible to celebrate additional Masses at the weekends. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.
Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person. We therefore ask parishes, wherever possible, to continue live-streaming Sunday Mass, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable to leave home because of advanced age or illness.
When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. We ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance that will be issued and the instructions in each church.
“As I have loved you,” said the Lord Jesus, “so you must love each other.” (Jn 13:34) The lockdown has brought forth remarkable acts of charity, of loving kindness, from Catholics across our communities as they have cared for the needy and vulnerable. We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line keyworkers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion. As we prepare to gather again to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.
Yours devotedly in Christ
✠ Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark
Mary’s Meals feeds hungry children in 19 of the world’s poorest countries. The meals the charity serves in schools attract children into the classroom, where they can gain an education that will one day be their ladder out of poverty. It costs just £15.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals every school day for an entire year. Check the link below:
22nd June is the feast of our patron Saint.
Michael Walsh, a Historian and parishioner of St Thomas More has written an article about our patron Saint which you can read by clicking here
Justice & Peace
Imagine: A world where the stranger is welcomed, and celebrated
The challenging theme of ‘Imagine’ inspires the (mostly online) events during Refugee Week and may be found on its website, such as the People-Not-Walls virtual rally (see the e-bulletin), discussing how to establish human rights on our borders. Migrants in Northern France have suffered, not only from the threat of the Covid19 infection, but also the sudden disappearance of their emergency food and shelter provisions as volunteers have had to retreat to safe isolation.
Our Church continues unequivocally to Welcome the Stranger, both in practical ways and through advocacy. The post-EU Immigration Bill is currently under discussion in Parliament and we commend wholeheartedly the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, as well as the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, for their critical letters to the Government calling for significant amendments to this vital piece of legislation. In particular, they deplore the use of indefinite detention for asylum seekers. Read the full text of the Bishops’ statement at https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/39772
Our Bishops have also signed the Faith Leaders’ plea to the Prime Minister to enable the admission of unaccompanied minors abandoned across Europe, omitted by the proposed bill, in a letter organised by leading NGO, Safe Passage. This is an issue for which Safe Passage has campaigned, vigorously, and sometimes successfully: the admission of young migrants into the UK either under the Dubs Amendment or through the Dublin III provision for the reunification of families. We remember the surprising, but welcome, recent arrival of 47 young people from the notorious Greek migrant camps shortly after Easter, due to the successful campaign by Safe Passage lobbyists.
Whatever the group, category or rights, we remember the Irish poem, ‘And the lark said in her song, “often, often, often, goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.”’ In Refugee Week we celebrate and welcome the stranger.
Caroline Lees Paintings
Caroline Lees who painted the Icon of the resurrection and some of the icons in the Church has painted a series of pictures of Nurses and DRs to raise money for the NHS. The 3 people in this picture are all from the same family:
CAFOD Coronorvirus Appeal
Difficult times these are for all of us, but Martin, the Parish Representative for CAFOD, asks you nevertheless to consider CAFOD’s urgent CoronaVirus Emergency Appeal. If you feel able to please do consider making a donation.
The effects of coronavirus on developing countries where CAFOD works are likely to be devastating. Food prices have risen, many are losing their jobs and income, healthcare is inadequate, washing regularly and social distancing are not possible. The poorest and excluded are most vulnerable. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water and healthcare are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
CAFOD is adapting its programmes to help manage the risk of coronavirus in such communities, working to get food to where it is needed most; to improve hygiene, handwashing and sanitation in communities and households; spreading information on risks and prevention; and training community volunteers to help raise awareness. Hence this emergency appeal. More detail on the CAFOD website.
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