9th September – Although places of worship were not mentioned in the new government guidance restricting “social gatherings ” to six from 14.9.20, statements issued by the Catholic Bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury say that they understand from HMG that this does not apply to church services, and the Bishops are not changing their current guidance about Masses and safety procedures. We believe you are still therefore free to attend Mass on Sundays . This is confirmed by a tweet from the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government late in the afternoon where he said: “Places of worship remain open for communal prayer and services for above 6 people, with existing Covid-19 secure requirements continuing to apply. Weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and religious “life-cycle events” remain limited to 30 people.”
If this changes, we will post it up on here as soon as we can. Watch this space !
It was a delight when, after fifteen weeks of closure, St Augustine’s was able to re-open for Mass on weekdays and Sundays from Monday 6th July. Deo gratias !
The first stage in our phased re-opening was that we would be able to open, for private prayer only, with appropriate hygiene precautions, from Monday 15th June. We therefore opened the doors between 5pm and 7pm that day, and the Church was regularly open from 2-5pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from 20th June. See below for times elsewhere in the locality. These opportunities for private prayer will continue, as long as the good people who have volunteered to steward these occasions are willing to carry on. However, since the take-up of this opportunity has been very low since we re-opened for Mass, with effect from 8th August the hours will be 3-5pm only – and during September this will only be on Sunday afternoons. because of First Confession arrangements on Saturdays.
In re-opening for public Mass, we have to comply with detailed guidance from Bishop David, the Bishops’ Conference and HM Government about minimising the risk of spreading infection by people gathering in an indoor space. We are still a long way from “business as normal”. From the weekend of 8/9th August, it is mandatory to wear a face covering when you come to Mass ; you remove it or pull it down briefly to receive Holy Communion
We still have to operate under a 2m social distancing rule, since the relaxation to 1m is not applicable to all situations, just to those where there is no practical alternative (like small restaurants) – and we cannot say that.
So we have had to reduce massively the amount of seating in the Church, and cannot safely accommodate more than 50 singly-seated people at once. This is what it looks like..
One consequence is that we have to ask you to book in advance stating which Sunday Mass you wish to attend, how many people are coming, and whether, if you are part of a couple or family, you strongly wish to sit together. This can be done by phoning the parish office/presbytery on 01494 523969, or e-mailing. We need to do it this way so as to control how many people are arriving for Mass, since if everyone who would normally attend (say) the 11am Sunday simply turns up, we shall not be able to let them all in, and we do not want to have to turn you away. We do not need to require bookings for the less-attended weekday Masses. For a while, we did not need bookings for the 6pm mass, but as numbers attending have – praise be to God ! – been increasing in the last couple of weeks, we have had to reinstate this requirement. Advance booking, by a phone call (see below), or an e-mail a full day in advance, is needed for all Sunday Masses. Everything has gone smoothly so far, With the use of facemasks, we could in theory now reduce the spacing between seats, and increase numbers, but have no need to do that at the moment, and the 2m spacing helps people to feel safer.
To secure a place, please ring 01494 523969, ideally on a Saturday, but no later than 8:30 am Sunday, remembering (for the 11am) that Fr Jonathan will not be able to take your call while the 9am mass is going on.
More details about all this, including how Holy Communion is being distributed, are in the newsletter (see above right) or in this excerpt from Fr Jonathan’s e-mail sent out some weeks ago, click here
Doubtless most will wish to come to one of the Masses on Sunday, as they are used to. However, not everyone can, so we are beseeching all of you who are able to do so, to come on a weekday, so as to reduce pressure on numbers on Sunday. Doing so will be a valued sacrifice for the benefit of others who do not have the choice. And… please pass this news on to your relatives or neighbours who are not able to access the Internet !
Please note that all toilet facilities are closed.
Below are opening times of the other churches in our Pastoral Area.
St John Henry Newman parish : (OLG = Our Lady of Grace, Squirrel lane, Booker.)
For private prayer, OLG only, 12-2pm Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays 11am-1pm . Opening for Mass from 11th July, 5pm Sat at OLG,. 9am at St Wulstans, 11:30 OLG. Weekday Masses Mon 9:30 am (OLG), Tues 9:30 am St W’s, Thurs 7:30pm St W’s, Fri 9:30am OLG.
St Teresa’s, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield – Private prayer, Monday and Wednesday from 10am – 12noon , Sundays from 2pm – 4pm. From 11th July, opening for Mass (6:45pm Sat, 8:45and 11:30am Sun) – booking-in form on their website.
St Peter’s, Marlow – opening for private prayer 10:30-12:30 Sundays from 28th June . They have re-opened for Sunday Mass, 9am, 11am and 5:30pm, certainly with effect from 19th July. Their website spells out the way Mass is conducted, similar to ours.