News/Corona Virus updates




John Arnold (bishop) - Wikipedia


To be distributed in June 2020


My dear brothers and sisters,
I want to write to you and assure you that my thoughts and
prayers are with you all, at this time.

There are many resources available on the Diocesan website and
being circulated among parish communities, by Catholic
organisations and among small groups. It has been very
encouraging to see so many positive and practical initiatives
during these difficult times – not least in the live-streaming of
Masses, liturgies, and devotions. My thanks and sincere
appreciation to all who have been so imaginative in minimising
the impact of physical isolation and allowing people to feel
included and a part of community in so many different ways.
This includes the contact by phone and other initiatives for
those who do not have access to the internet and live streaming.

All churches were closed in March by government directive out
of concern for the safety and well-being of people. Public
gatherings were banned as an attempt to limit the danger of
contagion. And safety must continue to be our priority as we
move towards the re-opening of churches. Even when churches
are allowed to re-open on Monday 15th June, not all churches
will be able to re-open at once. It is intended that several named
churches, spread around the Diocese, will be ready to open for
private prayer, and are currently being prepared. Other
churches will follow as quickly as it can be assured that they are
able to fulfil the conditions for cleanliness, and social
distancing. All parishes will be assisted in these preparations. It
is likely to be several more weeks before we will be able to
celebrate Mass publicly and, even when that is possible, social
distancing will limit the numbers of people able to attend – even
in our largest church buildings. We must all be patient. We are
under no obligation to attend Mass during this time, and
making spiritual communion is a powerful way to welcome
Christ into our lives at home.

During this time, we have every reason to be grateful to all who
have been working on the frontline, in hospitals, care homes, in
the community and emergency services and all those ensuring
vital supplies. Many of them are our own parishioners. It is real
faith in action.

It is important that we continue to remember those who have
died and those who have lost loved ones during this time. It
must be particularly difficult to have the funeral of a loved one
under present circumstances. In addition to any individual
Requiem Mass or Memorial Service for those who have died
during this period, it will be important that each parish has
some form of special Memorial Services to which all the
bereaved are invited as an opportunity to support each other in
The limitations on our personal freedom should not restrict, in
any way, our lived practice of our Faith. On the contrary, we are
being called to re-visit and develop our private prayer, our
understanding that – wherever we are – we are the Church,
members of the Body of Christ. We are invited to build that
sense of “Church at home”, renewing the reality stated in St
John’s Gospel “Remain in me as I in you” (Jn 15:7), and “He is
with you, He is in you” (Jn 14:17). Christ lives in us wherever we
may be. I am so impressed by the many creative ways that
people have found to encourage each other in prayer. Hopefully,
this will continue in our journey ahead, centred on Christ and
guided in prayer.

Pope Francis is adamant that we are best able to express
ourselves as Church when we can come together for the
celebration of the Sacraments, to pray together and then to go
out as missionary disciples, especially to the poor and the
marginalised. But Pope Francis also recognises that this is not
always possible but that does not restrict us from being Church
and “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). And during this
difficult time of not having access to our churches and while we
are unable to participate fully in Mass and other liturgies we
can be in solidarity with those many Catholics throughout the
world who, because of persecution or military conflict, are
unable to receive sacraments for years on end. There are many
people, in the squalor of refugee camps, who have no access to a
place of prayer or sacrament. But they are very clearly Catholics
to be admired for their strength of Faith.

We must now be absolutely sure to think globally and
understand the impact that we have on one another throughout
the world, and how we depend on others as they depend on us.
We can no longer simply look inwards to our own needs and
welfare. In these last three months many of us have been living
our lives quite differently with our walking and cycling, reduced
shopping. Is this a sign of a “new normal”? The pandemic has
taught us that we are all so closely connected, across all
nations, which is a lesson that Pope Francis has been teaching,
particularly in his encyclical letter “Laudato Si”, where he
appeals to us all to recognise our duties to all our brothers and
sisters and our care for our common home. It is said that we are
the first generation that has learned about the damage that we
are doing to our environment and we may be the last generation
to be able to avoid irreversible damage for future generations.

The recent violence in the United States is a further reminder of
our need to think globally and to recognise the dignity of every
person of whatever colour, creed, or gender. We are privileged to
be entrusted with the challenge which, with the grace and power
of God, working in us and through us, we can achieve for our
children’s future. Let us make the pandemic a steppingstone to
a brighter and safer world for all.

Governments will need to collaborate, globally. Industry and
technology must develop in more environmentally sustainable
ways. Every one of us must be determined to promote that
global thinking and care in our homes and parishes and

“Stay with us, Lord, on our Journey”

We ask the intercession of Mary, Our Mother, in a prayer of St
Pope John Paul II

‘Mary, woman clothed with the sun, help us to fix our gaze on
Christ amid the inevitable sufferings and problems of everyday
life. Help us not to be afraid of following him to the very end,
even when the cross seems unbearably heavy. Make us
understand that this alone is the way which leads to the heights
of salvation. And from heaven, where you shine forth as Queen
and Mother of Mercy. Watch over each one of your children.’


Yours devotedly,

John Arnold