We are open for public Masses, but will still be observing some social-distancing practice within the church for the medium-term future (see below), though advance booking is no longer needed if you wish to come to any of the Sunday Masses, (For Weekday Mass at 0930 it was always okay just to turn up.)
NB Fr Jonathan has announced that live-streaming of Masses will cease after 10th October. See his message in that day’s newsletter. Briefly, this service, which has been useful to those who could not attend Mass in person during the stricter phases of lockdown, is now only being used by a very small number of people ; with the church now fully open and seating capacity back to near-normal, yet with provision made for those with a medical need to preserve social; distancing and those who are still understandably nervous ; also, it places an extra (though minor) burden on our priests, and has never really been achieved to the quality we would wish; finally the lengthy wires necessary to get a wifi signal into the church are increasingly a trip hazard. We will continue experimenting to improve the service and may restore it if there is demand from people genuinely housebound.
Here is a summary of the way we propose to handle things over the next few weeks:
Seating arrangements – we have brought back most of the “soft seats” from the Upper Room They have not all been restored at once, so that bigger gaps can be left between rows, and also it is proposed that the aisle on the right side of the nave (looking towards the sanctuary) will be left as a “distanced” area, with plastic seats, to be used specifically by those who have special reasons to be concerned about infection, such as deficient immunity etc. See photos below
Face-masks– will not be compulsory, but we strongly encourage parishioners to continue wearing them for the time being, to help make others feel safe, even if you feel confident – ESPECIALLY if you end up sitting in the “distanced ” area mentioned above. Please continue to use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church.
Singing by congregation – is permitted, though you are requested to sing “through your mask” if you can. Hymnbooks will only be used at the 11am Mass, starting from 11th Sept, and then will remain untouched for a week.
Sign of peace – to remain “contactless ” until otherwise advised
Receiving Holy Communion – with effect from 17th October, we will extend to weekend Masses the practice which has bee used at the less-attended weekday Masses, i.e. communicants will come forward in a queue to the centre gap (as per pre-pandemic ). Please leave a substantial distance between you and the person in front, and do not form a longer queue than necessary. i.e. remain in your seat until the last person to get up from the row in front of you has moved forward. All those willing to do so are requested to receive the Body of Christ reverently in their outstretched hand. Those wishing to receive the Host on their tongue are requested to come up once all the others have received, and to kneel 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. Second collections will continue to be taken by static baskets at the exits.
Use of the Upper Room – back in service, but limited until it is completely cleared of the downstairs chairs. The Upper Room and its kitchen have undergone a thorough cleaning, and had their first use for many months for Fr Daniel’s first-anniversary celebrations on 25th Sept.
Lighting candles – this much-valued form of private prayer is available again, but please have consideration for your neighbours and do not spend any longer than you can help over your prayers, as others are likely to be waiting in a queue to do the same. Ans if you have to queue, do keep some distance between you.
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
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 some degree of social distancing, to help our parishioners feel safe in coming back to church.
So even as we bring back the usual “soft seats “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 certainly seems to be the case in recent weeks. ) More room than usual is being left between the rows, and the kneelers have been left out (bring your own cushion or pad !) This is what things now look like . . . .
There are “distanced areas ” to right of the main nave for those who might still feel unsafe sitting close to others. And if you wish to have a clear space left next to you in the main nave, there are seat-cards for this purpose at the entrances.
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.
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 are still 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.
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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)
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.