As you are by now no doubt aware, the Government has given the go-ahead for us to reopen our Churches for Mass from the 4th July. This is indeed great news! It will be a welcome blessing for us to meet together once again as a Parish and I am very much looking forward to that.
There will be Mass in St Kenelm's on Saturday 4th July at 1.00 pm and on Sunday 5th at 10.00am.
Obviously, space will be limited (see below) and we must obey the new seating capacity of the church. I would very much like to welcome you all back straight away but realistically that can't happen. Short of opening a lottery, I propose that only those with a surname beginning from A to F attend Mass on Saturday 4th July, and that only those with a surname beginning from G to L attend Mass on Sunday 5th July. Even with this system, please be understanding if the new capacity of the church is reached before you get in and don't be too upset that you may be asked to return home if it is.
Inside the church, the way we do things now will be different to the way things have been done in pre-Coronavirus days so we can all expect to see changes. Collective and self-hygiene is paramount in keeping the virus at bay so we will be observing strict hand washing and social distancing in St Kenelm's in the months ahead and I ask you all to understand and comply fully with the requirements of the 'new normal' that will govern our coming together:
- Due to social distancing requirements, the maximum number of people that can be accommodated in St Kenelm's at any one time is 33. This is obviously a huge reduction in our seating capacity and will have a great affect on what we can do at this time.
- Social distancing of 2 metres must be observed both in the church grounds and in the church at all times.
- A one-way system will be in operation. You will enter as usual through the Narthex, and exit through the Sacristy.
- The Holy Water stoop will remain dry.
- Please be aware that the toilets may not be used.
- Everyone is required to sanitise their hands on entering and exiting the church and to wear a face covering, which may or may not be a surgical mask. The face covering should cover your nose and mouth and must be worn for the duration of Mass. (The church will not provide masks / face coverings)
- You will be directed to a seat by a steward. This may not be where you would normally choose to sit, but please be compliant as seating will be limited and many of the seats cannot be used.
- If you wish to you can bring your own missal or prayer book. This must be for your own use only and cannot be shared. There will be no books / sheets provided.
- In accordance with Diocesan guidelines, there will be no singing, offertory procession, or Sign of Peace.
- Whilst I value the help of Altar Servers and Eucharistic Ministers, these will not be required until further notice due to social distancing and hygiene regulations.
- To limit movement and contamination inside the church, Holy Communion will be distributed at the end of Mass as you leave the church. It will not be possible to return to your seat after you have received Holy Communion.
- Whilst it will be lovely to meet together after such a long time, please resist the urge to congregate outside before and after Mass, and maintain social distancing at all times.
These regulations may seem draconian to you, but they are unfortunately very necessary.
Understandably, many people may be uneasy at the prospect of returning to church at this time. PLEASE REMEMBER: THE OBLIGATION TO ATTEND MASS REMAINS SUSPENDED AT THIS TIME
. Therefore, you do not have to come to Mass and those who are afraid or vulnerable in any way are strongly encouraged to stay at home and follow Mass on television. (The is a lovely Mass on Shalom World TV from SS Peter & Paul, Portlaoise, Ireland, available on YouTube at 10am/10pm everyday, and of course streamed Mass from various parishes in the Diocese and the world continue.)
Please continue to be very careful and take every precaution to keep yourself, your loved ones, and us all safe. The virus hasn't gone away, and the global death-toll is still frightening. Only by working together have we any chance of making our country and world COVID 19 free. We pray that that day may come sooner rather than later.
Fr Gerry x