Dear parishioners, thanks be to God we seem to be moving forward now in returning to some form of normality in our lives and in our ability to come together to worship God in Holy Mass!
As of July 19th the social distancing regulations will mean that a 1 metre distance is required between parishioners when attending Holy Mass, which consequently means we should be able to accommodate more people, without in any way being crowded. In my estimation the protocols we have been asked to put in place have been some of the most stringent, especially compared to social venues where there may be comparable gatherings of people. Our adherence to the guidelines should fill those coming to church with a sense of ease and confidence about their well-being. I want to thank, again, all those parishioners who have been making the implementation of these guidelines possible and who have given generously of their time and energies. I appreciate that the demands made haven’t always been easy and that many have felt worn down by this whole situation and the changes that have been imposed upon us.
Coming to Holy Mass:
I earnestly encourage you to now return to Holy Mass, and if you haven’t been managing on Sundays, when there is perhaps a slightly greater demand, to come during the week. You are missed and you will be made most welcome! Although the bishops have not yet re-instated the Sunday Obligation we should be trying, if we are physically able, to make the effort to come now to Holy Mass and begin to enter once more into a regular pattern of worship. The Lord Jesus is waiting here for us to give Himself to us in the Sacrament of His Divine Presence, the Most Holy Eucharist. Whilst virtual “participation” online may have been a helpful lifeline during times of total lockdown we all know that there can never be a substitute for actual participation and the reality of receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
You will know that I have struggled at times to know how to approach encouraging people to come to Mass and have moved from a booking system to a system where people simply turn up and try to get a place on the day – both of these approaches have their pitfalls, and I apologise to anyone who has felt inconvenienced or upset at the fact of having to book, or who may have been turned away because we had reached our “legal capacity” so-to-speak. Turning people away from Holy Mass or doing anything to discourage them from coming is that very last thing that I would want to do, and I do hope you understand this. Perhaps my choice of “first-come, first-served” when attempting to come to Mass was ill-advised, but not at all intended to put people off, or to make the situation seem any more awkward or unusual than it already is. I would happily say more Masses, within the limit of what I am canonically permitted to say, if I knew the demand was there, in order to accommodate everyone, but you will appreciate that I was saying 7 “Sunday Masses” at times between the Saturday Vigils and Masses on Sunday itself.
We are in this together, and I would therefore encourage you to also gently and lovingly speak to fellow parishioners, tell them of how good it is to be back to Mass, and encourage them to come along, too, if they haven’t been managing to do so. Sometimes all it takes are a few positive words and a bit of loving encouragement.
You may have seen, already, that I hope to hold a series of barbecues over the next while when the weather is hopefully a bit better, and this is with the aim of building up those ties of friendship which already exist within the parish communities of St. James’ and St. Matthew’s. If you would be interested please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling me who would like to come (i.e. names and number of those wishing to attend). We will them be back in touch with you to let you know when your barbecue will be. We will have several small gatherings to keep in line with what is currently permitted.
Building Maintenance Fund:
On a completely different note I am now going to establish a “Building Fund” for the specific general maintenance of the church properties. We have engaged in ongoing maintenance, which you will appreciate can be quite costly, but in addition to this we will soon be having compulsory health and safety checks (looking for things like asbestos, etc., checking fire precautions…) also the diocese will require the properties to be properly surveyed and necessary maintenance worked to be carried out in order to keep everything up to scratch. With this is mind I think it is important to establish a dedicated Building Fund to which parishioners may wish to contribute above their normal giving to the parish. This fund will be ring-fenced for works to the property alone. If any of you are homeowners you will understand the demands of maintaining any property and especially properties the size of St. James’ and St. Matthew’s. I will leave a box or tray at the back of the churches and donations for our building fund can be handed in at any time in envelopes marked “Building Fund Donation”. Thank you in advance for your generous contributions, and for the way in which you continue to support your church financially throughout the year. As I have said before our sole income is from your weekly contributions, so God bless you for the generous sacrifices you make to support the church in our area.
Let us, as always, keep each other in prayer and remember that the bond we have together in Christ is very great. I pray that the Good Lord will bless you and keep you, that Our Lady will pray for you and protect you, and that all God’s holy angels and saints will intercede for your needs and those of your loved ones at this time.
Yours in Christ,
Mass Times, etc. for the week of Monday 5th July to Sunday 11th July, 2021:
Monday 5th July – No Mass
Tuesday 6th July – Holy Mass at 7.00p.m. (Confessions available after Mass) – St. James’
Wednesday 7th July – Holy Mass at 10.00a.m. (Confession available after Mass) – St. James’
Thursday 8th July – Holy Mass at 10.00a.m. (Confession available after Mass) – St. James’
Friday 9th July – Holy Mass at 10.00a.m. (Confession available after Mass) – St. James’
Saturday 10th July – Holy Mass at 3.00p.m. (Confession available after Mass) – St. Matthew’s
Saturday 10th July – Holy Mass at 5.00p.m. – St. James’
Sunday 11th July – Holy Mass at 9.00a.m. – St. James’
Sunday 11th July – Holy Mass at 11.00a.m. – St. James’
Sunday 11th July – Holy Mass at 1.00p.m. – St. James’ (Confessions available after Mass)
As stated above, bookings will now not be required for any of these Masses.