We are open for public Masses, but will still be observing some social-distancing practice within the church for the next few weeks (see below) so advance booking is still needed if you wish to come to any of the Sunday Masses, or the temporary Saturday 6pm one from 1st May. (For Weekday Mass at 0930 it is okay just to turn up.)

With effect from 19th July – or rather 24th / 25th July, being the first weekend at which people may be expecting to notice any difference, following the general easing of restrictions under the Government Roadmap Step 4 – Fr Jonathan is determined, in line with Bishop David’s guidance, to be slow and careful about dropping all the “Covid practices” that we have had to adopt in the past year. We are aware that many people are nervous about a likely increase in infections as the general population relaxes, and that ironically this may result in fewer people, not more, being willing to come back to Church, double-jabbed or not. We must still ensure that St Augustine’s is a venue in which people feel safe.

So here is a list of the way we propose to handle things over the next few weeks:

Seating arrangements will remain as they are for the immediate future, as will the need to book your places. As and when it is decided to start bringing back the “soft seats” from the Upper Room, they will probably not all be restored at once, so that bigger gaps can be left between rows, and also it is proposed that the right-hand side of the nave (looking towards the sanctuary) will be left as a “distanced” area, with plastic seats, to be booked specifically by those who have special reasons to be concerned about infection, such as deficient immunity etc.

Face-masks– will not be compulsory after the 19th, but we strongly encourage parishioners to continue wearing them for the time being, to help make others feel safe, even if you feel confident. Please continue to use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church.

Singing by congregation – will be permitted after Monday 19th, though you are requested to sing “through your mask” if you can. Hymnbooks will only be used at the 11am Mass, and then will remain untouched for a week.

Sign of peace – to remain “contactless ” until otherwise advised

Receiving Holy Communion – the system presently used at weekend Masses will continue for the time being. At weekday masses, you are requested to come forward, if you can, to the gap in the altar rail, leaving a decent distance between yourself and the person in front of you. Those wishing to receive the Host on the tongue are requested to come up last, and to spread themselves out along the altar rail, to make it easier for Father to count heads. They will then receive Communion from a separate paten.

Collection baskets – the ordinary first-collection at weekends will resume being taken by collectors bringing baskets to you. Please do not pass the baskets “along the row”, and as always we ask you to make your regular donation by Standing Order rather than physical cash (needing handling and banking ) if you can.

Use of the Upper Room – we will make announcements about this once it is completely or mostly cleared of the downstairs chairs.

The speed at which we restore all our practices back to pre-March 2020 “normal ” will be determined by how safe our people feel, so do please let us know your thoughts on the above points and other features you can think of. You may like to consult the Catholic Bishops’ Conference guidelines available here

See below about booking arrangements generally.
We still have the church open for private prayer on Saturday afternoons, 3-5pm as explained below

If anything changes, we will post it up on here as soon as we can. Watch this space !

Opportunities for private prayer will continue, The church will generally now be kept open each day from after the morning Mass to the early evening. We rely on you to sanitise your hands on entry, and to clean your seat any surface you have touched- and not to sit or stand close to any one you do not live with.

It remains strongly encouraged (but not mandatory) to wear a face covering when you come to Church

We are likely still to operate under a 2m social distancing rule, to help our parishioners feel safe in coming back to church.

St Augustines rearranged for social distancing
The socially-distanced church

So we will still keep reduced the amount of seating in the Church, increasing it only slowly if and as more people seem to be returning to Mass, which means for the moment we cannot safely accommodate more than 50 singly-seated people at once. This is what it looks like.. The total can go up to 70 or so if pairs or groups of people from households are sitting together.

In view of the limited capacity, and to avoid disappointment, we still have to ask our people to book in advance for whichever weekend mass they wish to come to. Just ring the presbytery on 01494 523969, or send an e-mail, a day or two before each Sunday ( no “standing bookings”, please) stating how many people from your household are coming together, so we can put two or several chairs together for you. If you turn up without booking, and the Church is already full to its safe capacity, we may have to refuse entry and ask you to attend another Mass. This is not because we are compelled by Government, but to avoid people who feel at risk from suddenly being crowded by late non-booked arrivals. These arrangements DO NOT APPLY to the weekday Masses, for which you can “just turn up”.

If you make a booking for a certain number of people . at a particular Mass, and then find you (or some of your household) cannot come, PLEASE PLEASE let Fr J know by phone – our 9am and 11am Masses are regularly near capacity, and it helps us a lot if we know that we have a couple of spare seats from cancellations. (We appreciate that sometimes, last-moment crises stop you coming, too late to phone. )

If you have a smartphone with the NHS App installed, please “check in ” as you enter the church -there is a poster with the QR code on the left of the main-porch inner doors.

Please note that all toilet facilities are closed.

Below are the current opening times of the other churches in our Pastoral Area. For updates, check their websites, which are easy to find via Google

St John Henry Newman parish : (OLG = Our Lady of Grace, Squirrel lane, Booker.)
Sunday Mass ; 9am, (St Wulstans), 11:30 (OLG). Weekdays; 10am St W Tues, 10am OLG Friday. Also live-streamed Masses Mon & Thurs 10am, not open to the public. Nothing said about private-prayer times. It may be that some churches ceased these opportunities when able to open for public Mass

St Teresa’s, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield – Mass times 6pm Saturday and 0930 Sunday (Beaconsfield), 1030 (Bourne End). Nothing said about private-prayer times.. The 0930 Mass is live-streamed.

St Peter’s, Marlow – Mass times 9,11 am and 5:30pm. It is not stated whether any of these will be live-streamed. Nor do they say anything about private-prayer times

St Josephs at Gerrards Cross has re-opened for some public Masses – important to check their website to see which ones. All their Masses and services are live-streamed.

Note from the publishers of the Catholic Times and The Universe:

TO OUR CATHOLIC UNIVERSE AND CATHOLIC TIMES READERS IN THE PARISH:- at the moment you are unable to collect your paper at Mass, but you can get it delivered direct to your home every week, POST FREE.   Please go to www.thecatholicuniverse.com or call them on 0161 820 5722 and they will arrange for you.

for:- £115.00 Print Copy and Digital Edition, Saving over £39.00.
PRINT OFFER ONLY £99.00 (Postage Free)
DIGITAL OFFER ONLY £55.00

All you need to do is reply back to us and we will arrange for an invoice to be sent for your own personal subscription.

Keeping you and your parish in our thoughts and prayers.

16th January – the Universe publishers have made available a free specimen copy of their online paper, dated 15th January , Click here to view it as a PDF (if your computer will not open it, you may need to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader)

REDUNDANCY COACHING

Many people have lost, or are at risk of losing, their jobs as a result of the economic dislocation caused by the pandemic. We have been recommended, by a parish in Luton, to the free coaching and advice service provided by  http://www.vitaeopus.co.uk – free online information and advice about Job Hunting, Self Employment and Active Retirement for Parishioners adversely affected workwise by the pandemic.  Please pass the link on to anyone who may find it useful.