Latest update: 29th June 2020
Re-Opening of St. Mary’s Church
On Saturday 27th June 2020 St. Mary’s opened its doors once again for private prayer on three days a week, from 9.30am to 11am. Many special measures have had to be put in place, including a detailed Risk Assessment, in order to receive permission to re-open our church.
A large number of churches in our diocese remain closed since they are not yet ready to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Only those churches with permission to open for private prayer will be able to open for the celebration of Mass with a congregation from Saturday 4th July.
Sadly, I feel that now is not the time for St. Mary’s to begin to celebrate Mass publicly; Covid 19 has not gone away. It has not been beaten. We have seen from the experience of many countries that the infection rates are rising again. In our own country we have seen many people behaving as if the virus had gone forever. Our television tells the tale of crowded beaches, large gatherings at illegal music events and celebrating football fans, many not so far from here. The ‘R’ number remains high in the North West and much has still to be done to reduce the risk to our own health and indeed the health of those around us.
Although St. Mary’s is by no means a small church, there is no way we can return to the numbers of people attending Sunday Mass at this time. St. Mary’s has been prepared for private prayer using only half of the church. With social distancing we can only allow for 23 people. The full church would mean 46 people at Mass. How do we turn others away from Sunday Mass and funerals?
Having spent these weeks and months striving to do what is right for our loved ones and all our neighbours I know now is not the right moment to rush into opening our church and risk the damage of seeing more of our friends and parishioners fall victim to the virus which for some, could mean an early death.
As you know Fr. Laurence and Fr. Martin are our hospital chaplains. They spend each day looking after those who are seriously ill with Covid 19, and sadly those who die as a result of the virus. We thank them for all that they do.
It is important for all of us to realise that there is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass in these very difficult times. The time will come, hopefully soon, when we can once again celebrate the Eucharist together in our churches. We have come a long way in our journey through this crisis, but our guiding thought must always be the safety of others and ourselves.
Fr. Michael Dever