Changes after the 19th of July

‘Step 4’ changes – CBCEW document

That’s the entire document linked above, if anybody is interested in looking. I’ve summarised some of the changes that apply to the parish church.

  • We must take note of local patterns of infection and date presented by the local public health service in our use of public services in general.
  • Happily, the government has noted a reduction in the numbers progressing from infection to hospitalisation and in the numbers of the deceased. The Bishops continue to recommend the vaccination programme.
  • The church buildings will continue to provide hand sanitising products, and to provide a general cleaning of the buildings after use. These best practices will be an ongoing feature of our parishes in the months to come.
  • From the 19th, the churches may increase their capacities, and we shall find the ribboning or roping off of pews to have vanished. We must however keep in mind that some in our midst will still wish to distance themselves and accommodate this in all charity. All of us who feel that we may need a quick exit from the church for one reason or the other should necessarily position themselves on the very end of pews, or otherwise ensure that they are able to leave well when they have to. I would suggest that it is easier to so isolate at certain Mass timings than at others. At the moment, the Sunday 10.30 is the most popular Mass, and there is a lot more room to move about at the 18.00 vigil Mass on Saturday and the 8.00 Mass on Sunday morning.
  • Congregational singing returns from the 19th and I shall recommend that we begin slowly with hymn-books and well-known hymns. The organ and choir singing, if they can be restored, will begin after the summer. The recommendation is that we sing with our masks on for some time, which will be difficult, but is better than nothing.
  • The churches can be left open for individual prayer and I shall evaluate when that is possible, based on what Father John has done in the past. All visitors would be required to use hand-sanitisers and to register their attendance for track-and-trace purposes, either by signing a register or by scanning a QR code with the NHS mobile application on their telephones (as in restaurants and pubs). This is the same procedure as for the current weekday Masses.
  • We are now permitted to judge for ourselves how we move within the church, so I shall get rid of the one-way system from Monday onwards. We shall also finally restore the Holy Communion queues, for Holy Communion will return to its place within the Mass. I would like to apologise for your different experience of the rite of Holy Communion in different parish churches around the City. I was following a preferred guideline given earlier by the bishops (HC after Mass), in order to better allow people to leave the church as soon as Mass had ended.
  • While the volunteer stewards have been necessary for our churches over the last year, to control movement in the church, the restoration of our ability to move on our own means that this function will no longer be necessary. I shall continue to request that our stewards help with the regular sanitising of the church after Masses.
  • Holy water will still not be placed in the usual reservoirs at the church door. If anybody would like holy water to be blessed for them personally, do bring bottles of it with you and the water will be duly blessed after Mass.
  • We shall restore the altar service, and the ministry of readers. Since, at the moment, we shall not be restoring Holy Communion under both kinds, the Extraordinary Ministry of Holy Communion will not be required during Mass. Extraordinary Ministers are invited to begin again with home visits.
  • Over the last year, I have been going around the church myself with Holy Communion, following what I saw was a good practice at S. Mary’s, in the City. We shall return to queues after the 19th.
  • The sign of peace remains omitted at this time.
  • Baptisms and marriages now have no restrictions on numbers, and I shall invite families arriving for baptisms to come one by one, so that the font is being used by only one family at a time.
  • I’m going to begin a half-hour of confessions before every Mass, starting at once. This will take place in the parish centre, adequately distanced, etc.
  • I have already begun with home-visits (since the 12th of May), although hampered slightly by ill-health. I shall put a better foot forward over the rest of the summer.
  • Parish social activities can also resume from the 19th, thanks be to God. We shall be creating risk-assessments, etc. for the restarting of such things as tea-and-coffee meetings after Masses. We shall first restore what had been taking place regularly before the lockdowns.

That’s all I want to mention at the moment. For all the rest, please refer to the linked document above.