Latest new from Fr Martin.............
Pope Francis has called on the world’s Christians and people of goodwill to join together to pray the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday, 25 March at 11am UK time (midday in Rome). On Friday 27 March at 5pm UK time (6pm Rome), the Pope will pray on the steps of St Peter’s basilica. Although the square will be empty, there will be a period of Adoration and readings from Scripture. At the end of the service, the Holy Father will impart his Urbi et Orbi blessing and will offer a Plenary indulgence for the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can watch on the Vatican Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxIsefyl9g9A5SGWA4FvGIA
With recent emails focusing so much upon what is stopping in the parish, I felt that in preparation for the first weekend of the new directives it may be worth sending something a little more positive and practical.
- As the new directives do not come into force until tomorrow evening, we will hold one final Mass at Holy Cross (the regular Friday Mass at 7pm, preceded by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 6.30pm with Confessions available).
If you are coming to this, please remember to use the hand sanitizer when you enter, and try to maintain social distancing of 2 metres from others. (And maybe keep an empty bench or two apart).
- Our churches WILL BE OPEN at all the times when we would have been celebrating Sunday Masses; 6.15-7.15pm on Saturday evening and 11am-12 noon on Sunday morning at Holy Cross, and 9.30-10 30am and 6.15-7.15pm on Sunday at St Mary's. There will be NO MASS, but you are welcome to drop in for a time of quiet prayer, and some prayer resources will be made available.
Again, please use the hand sanitizer provided and maintain social distancing of 2m.
- Private Masses will be offered each day, and we hope to make a video recording of the Sunday Mass available on the parish website. (Links to other online Masses will also be made available there). Thank you to Rick for enabling this.
- We will arrange times during the week when the churches will be open for quiet prayer, with some periods of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. These will be announced soon.
Why can we not have Mass if the churches are going to be open anyway?
If a service time is announced, people will gather as a group at that time, with all the inherent dangers of this. If we simply say that the churches will be open, people might drop in at any time for a few minutes but there will be no rush on the doors and no crowds gathered.
Could you help us?
- We are looking for volunteers who can assist with quiet supervision whenever the church is open. Please let us know if you might be able to help.
- We also need volunteers who can help support the lonely and isolated, with a chat on the phone or a delivery to their doorstep.
- We need help to find out who is struggling in self-isolation - if you are concerned about anyone, (or indeed if you are worried yourself) just let us know. We will not impose ourselves on anyone if we are not welcome, but we will make an offer for them to contact if they wish.
- CARITAS Diocese of Salford is working hard to support needy families through these challenging times. They have asked for donations of:
* Tinned Soups and Stew
* Pasta, rice and pasta sauce.
* Tinned meat or fish, beans and vegetables and fruit.
* Long life milk or natural fruit juices.
We will leave a labelled box in the churches for anything you may be able and kind enough to donate and, of course, the boxes for Loaves and Fishes will remain in place to support the homeless.
Please continue to keep one another in prayer.
Stay with us, Lord on our journey.
May God bless you all,
Parish Update on Coronavirus
This is our second update in two days, but with the way the situation is escalating around us, there is the constant need for us to respond.
Firstly, I will print out in full a letter from the Archbishops of England and Wales. Please read on, and I will outline the implications for us in this parish of St John Paul II, though at this stage it is just an initial response which we will expand upon in further updates.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the 'serious reason' why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
"The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want."
May God bless us all.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
What does this mean for us?
- Whilst the new instruction does not come into force until Friday evening, it now seems inappropriate for us to proceed with the Reconciliation Service on Thursday evening, so this will not now take place.
- Public Masses will cease, but Mass will be said behind closed doors every day - please know that this is taking place and remain in prayer and in Spiritual Communion with all of us.
- At Saturday evening and Sunday Mass times, our churches WILL be open for quiet prayer. Please use the hand-gel provided etc, and maintain appropriate social-distancing from others. We will look towards providing other open times for quiet prayer and let you know when there may be.
- Live Masses are available from https://www.churchservices.tv/whats-on-now/ and also from Walsingham at http://www.walsingham.org.uk/live-stream, and many of you may also have access to Mass on the EWTN television channel. We are also looking into the possibility of making some of our own Masses available online.
- Sacrament (Anointing) of the Sick - If you are not self-isolating I will be able to offer the Sacrament of the Sick in your home, but in hospitals or other institutions we must follow their own guidelines for the protection of other patients and residents. If your are self-isolating, I am sorry but I will not be able to visit, but will offer every possible support over the phone.
- Sacrament of Reconciliation - by arrangement, Confessions can be heard, but only with appropriate social-distancing applied (so only in the "confessional box" with the curtain in place. Please telephone if you would like this to be arranged.
- Funerals - First of all, tomorrow's funeral for Eunice Connelly at St Mary's WILL GO AHEAD. However, after Friday, whilst the death of a loved one presents such suffering for families, nonetheless besides the need for pastoral support we also need to take great care of the living. Funerals will be conducted at graveside or in Crematorium chapels only, carefully following the cemetery guidelines. Once the crisis is over, we will then invite all affected families who wish to arrange Memorial Masses in church, but after Friday and for the time being we will not be able to conduct funerals in church.
- First Holy Communion - unless the crisis has passed, all First Communion Masses will have to be postponed.
- Baptisms - apart from in cases of emergency, these will have to be delayed until public health guidelines allow gatherings once more.
- If you are struggling and need our help in any way, please contact the parish by phone or by email and we will do everything we can to help. The church is still here for you, even though there are no Masses for the time being.
People will have far more concerns than those detailed here and, whilst I will not yet have all the answers, I am happy for the questions to be asked.
Please be vigilant on behalf of neighbours and anyone you know who might feel vulnerable or afraid.
Please pray for all your fellow parishioners, and indeed for everyone affected by this crisis. Please pray for governments that we may all receive the best possible guidance. And please pray for our healthcare workers who are working under such great pressure at this time.
Once again, this is just an initial response, and more updates will follow as we have the opportunity at parish, deanery and diocesan level to think and pray through the many implications of these enforced changes. In the meantime, perhaps the following prayer is something in which we could all join together daily:
come to the help of your people.
Be our shelter in this time of peril
and strengthen the bonds of our community.
Bring healing to all who suffer
the ravages of disease
and assist those whose skill and art
can put an end to this affliction.
Through Christ our Lord.
And finally, please spread the word to anyone you know who might not be receiving these emails directly.
Thank you for all your support.
May God bless you all.