It has been good to see more of you coming together celebrating our weekday Masses in the light of the latest Government Regulations and on last Sunday morning there were just over 70 at the 9am morning Mass. (Still a far cry from the pre-Covid, 200 or so…) Great to be able to greet people who felt they wanted to return and who knew they were safe with all the precautions that are still being taken. Some were full of news about holidays that they had managed to take, mostly in the UK, and how good they found it to be able to have done that with their families. Lovely, too, to see old friends greeting each other with smiles on their faces. There is still a long way to go of course. Certain precautions will take longer to be removed than others, and we still have a serious responsibility to those in our Community who are still shielding and who remain very cautious.
We are eagerly looking forward to all three of our churches being open for Sunday Masses from the first weekend in September, and that will be a great cause for celebration. We will be asking parishioners at Most Holy Redeemer in Sawbridgeworth to give a hand in later August to clean and put to rights that lovely little church ready to welcome us all. We will also have to run Legionella tests on all the water there as well as the hot water cylinders in the Windhill Churches Centre, since no water has been drawn off for nearly a year – this was something that had not occurred to us till we had a recent health and safety inspection which turned out be very helpful.
Speaking of holidays, the time has come for Fr Antonio and myself to try and get a break. It has been a very long time since either of us has managed that. So, we are each taking just two weeks during August: Fr Antonio the first two weeks and myself, the second two weeks. That will include weekends so that we can have a proper bit of rest time completely away. Until a few years ago we usually managed to get “supply” priests in the summer but, of course, no one can come from abroad at the moment. As for “supply” priests in the Diocese, nearly all of those are over 75 and shielding still and are not available. You may remember that in 2018 we had Fr Angel from Spain the last of a long list of wonderful priests from overseas to look after us, but in 2019 it proved impossible and since then we have had to have August Masses only at St Joseph’s, not celebrating Sunday Masses at Sawbridgeworth or Much Hadham. It will be the same this year to enable your priests to have at least a short rest. Priests in parishes are expected to take a 4 weeks break in the summer and one week each after Christmas and Easter but we will probably be forgoing most of that for this year, for the moment taking just two weeks each. We hope to make some of it up perhaps later in the year but will wait and see.
We continue here at No 3 Windhill to do everything we can to protect everyone in the parish and now to plan the final re-opening of our three churches. Fr Antonio and I are very grateful to all those parishioners who have helped us both to carry the burden of these very difficult times; there have been times of exhaustion and deep frustration but, please God, we are all finding a way through to a safer future.
Most truly, with my thanks and prayers,