Coronavirus – Covid 19 – Update

 

1st July

Over the last few weeks the Government has relaxed the regulations surrounding places of worship, and now our churches are able to open for private prayer and for Mass too.  Our churches in Southwell and Calverton, being part of the Diocese of Nottingham, are subject to the decisions of Bishop Patrick, who has updated the regulations for our diocese, a precis of which is given below.

 

For the opening of the church building:

  1. a risk assessment in place, confirmed by the Bishop;

  2. the church building has been thoroughly checked for any physical damage, taps run, etc, and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before opening;

  3. a limit on the numbers entering the church, in the case of our churches this is likely to be 15 people in Southwell and 16 people in Calverton;

  4. a designated one-way system, with (ideally) two separate doors, and windows to be open as far as possible;

  5. information signs must be installed, and 2 metre markers placed on the floor;

  6. social distancing, both when seated and whilst moving inside the church, with other pews and seats either removed or blocked.  This can be 2 metres, or 1 meter plus if other mitigation is in place, which in our churches would be the mandatory wearing of face masks.  The diocesan recommendation is that a 2 metre social distance is maintained in all cases;

  7. hand-sanitising materials at the door to be used by each person entering;

  8. a minimum of two stewards present at all times, in protective clothing, and with disinfectant to clean the areas used by those who visit the church;

  9. the church has to be thoroughly cleaned after every session that it is open;

  10. holy water fonts will have to remain empty, and all literature, prayer books, leaflets etc should be removed;

  11. toilets are to remain closed.

 

With regard to the celebration of Mass:

  1. the church must already have the Bishop’s permission to be open (ie all the above criteria have been fulfilled);

  2. those who wish to attend the Mass must have pre-registered;

  3. the stewards should be in place at least half an hour before Mass is due to begin;

  4. ideally the priest should prepare all the requisites before Mass;

  5. any service sheets should be single use, and removed by each individual after Mass, with any remaining removed by the priest;

  6. congregational singing is suspended;

  7. it’s possible for the priest to celebrate with a minimal involvement of other minsters (altar servers; readers, Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion) to help maintain social distancing and avoid multiple contact of areas such as the lectern;

  8. the procession into and out of the church should be short, avoiding any close proximity with members of the congregation;

  9. the homily should be brief and the intercessions omitted;

  10. the presentation of the offerings is omitted, and likewise the collection (with a basket at the church door for donations to be given);

  11. the sign of peace is omitted;

  12. Holy Communion may be distributed either at the usual time, or immediately after Mass has finished (although it’s unclear whether our parish would be able to use this method of distributing Holy Communion since the diocesan guidelines mandate the assistance of a deacon).  In either case, the acclamation of the true presence of Christ (“The Body of Christ: Amen.”  “The Blood of Christ: Amen.”) takes place as the priest receives Holy Communion, so that the faithful, when they come forward, receive in silence.  A barrier (such as a prie-Dieu) should be placed between the faithful and the priest, to maintain a social distance, and the faithful receive on their hand, arms at ‘full stretch’;

  13. after Mass the priest should only greet the people once he has removed his vestments (which may need to be washed immediately), and at a safe distance, and without encouraging parishioners to linger;

  14. the altar linens used, etc, should be washed, along with the vessels used;

  15. the church should be closed after Mass, cleaned by the stewards (as above), and the priest should ensure no service sheets, etc, remain.

 

With regard to those volunteering to be stewards:

  1. potential stewards should already be formal volunteers in the parish (or in a neighbouring parish) in whatever role, and known to the relevant parish priest;

  2. it is advised that one volunteer present at each session at least should have undertaken some safeguarding training (although this does not have to have been through the Church);

  3. anyone not currently volunteering in a formal capacity with the parish can apply but an application will need to be made to the diocese under the Safer Recruitment Process and references taken up;

  4. those who are aged under 18, or who are shielding, or living with someone who is shielding, would not be suitable to steward;

  5. as a general rule stewards should not be drawn from the 70 or over age group, or from the clinically vulnerable category; under no circumstances can the stewards be in the shielding or extremely clinically vulnerable categories, or be living with someone in either of these categories.

 

There is also the potential for Mass to be celebrated outdoors, within the grounds of a church, if there’s sufficient space for social distancing, and following all of the relevant guidelines above.  Other criteria include:

  1. four stewards as a minimum would be needed;

  2. separate spaces are needed for car parking and for the celebration of Mass;

  3. the outdoor space should be marked out in 2 metre areas;

  4. the extent of the area should be designated, and hand sanitiser provided at the entrance to the area.

 

Clearly from the above protocols there’s also a need for people to assist with preparing the risk assessments, preparing the churches before each is opened for the first time (moving chairs and pews, thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting, etc), preparing the single-use orders of service, as well as stewarding for the time the church is open, whether for private prayer or for Mass.

 

Further to the information in the newsletter over the past three Sundays a total of thirteen parishioners and friends have responded.  Their thoughts are:

  1. the time is not right to encourage parishioners to come to church or to Mass because of the continuing dangers of the coronavirus;

  2. a suitable band of volunteers is needed;

  3. the 2 metre distancing should be maintained, and all of the Bishop’s guidelines should be followed, especially regarding strict hygiene controls;

  4. a midweek Mass might be more practical than a Sunday Mass;

  5. many of the current volunteers are over 70, and so not able easily to volunteer to be stewards

  6. it is important to open out churches as people need contact with their faith.

To date there has been one offer of help to prepare the church in Southwell for reopening, one offer of help stewarding in church in Southwell, and two offers of help stewarding in church in Calverton.

 

At present simply opening the church is not possible and it will depend on whether, as a community, we are able to meet these requirements (for both churches: it would be good to open both, rather than disadvantaging one portion or other of the parish) and have the resources in place before diocesan permission can be sought

 

Based on the requirements of Bishop Patrick, and on the responses received from parishioners to date as given above, Father Simon has determined that our parish is not yet in a position to open either of our churches, either for private prayer or for the celebration of Mass.

 

Thank you to those parishioners who have contacted Father Simon with their thoughts.  If, as a parish, we wish to open our churches again there is a need for more parishioners who might be willing to volunteer in whatever capacity.  If you’ve not yet contacted Father Simon, and have thoughts or ideas, please do so.

14th April

 

During these days of pandemic it is a great sadness that our Catholic churches throughout the country have to remain closed.  The daily Mass is still being celebrated for the intentions of all the parishioners of Southwell and Calverton, and for the specific intentions you have requested.

 

Please use the resources in Sunday's newsletter to follow Mass each day or each Sunday.  Although we can't live-stream from Our Lady of Victories church there are live-stream options given below, and the newsletter gives some further resources so that we be connected with our faith..

 

If you need to contact the parish priest, Father Simon, please get in touch:

Justine, our parish secretary, is now working from home, but can be contacted through the parish email address, and is collecting the post regularly.

 

As requested by the Prime Minister on 23rd March, public religious celebrations are not taking place for the time being.  Funeral Services can still be held, at the cemetery or crematorium, and a Requiem Mass or Memorial Mass can be celebrated later, when it’s possible to gather again in church.

 

If you or someone you know wishes to be anointed with the Sacrament of the Sick please speak with Father Simon.  Likewise, if you or someone you know wishes to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) this can be arranged directly with Father Simon.

 

In these days let us stay safe and well, with our eyes fixed on the Lord.  As our churches have to remain closed, let us open our hearts even wider.  As the Psalms say ‘Grow higher ancient doors and let the King of Glory enter.’  These are the doors of our hearts.  God knows well how to fill our lives.  We must open our hearts in prayer and silent welcome.

The readings and prayers for Mass each day can be found here:

 

 

Daily Mass is broadcast from the Cathedral at the following times:

  • Sunday and Saturday: 10am

  • Weekdays: 1pm

The link to the televised Mass is here:

Daily Mass is broadcast from the National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady in Walsingham each day at 12 noon:

 

Sunday Mass, celebrated by Bishop Patrick, will be broadcast from his chapel at Bishop’s House each Sunday at 10am:

The Bishop is also celebrating other liturgies (Holy Hours, the Rosary, etc), so check his YouTube channel, on the above link, to find out more.

Pope Francis has written this special prayer, and is encouraging Christians throughout the world to unite in praying it:

 

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection.  Amen.

 

We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test –

and deliver us from every danger,

O glorious and blessed Virgin.