Quite understandably, many of you across the Parish have been asking myself and Fr Antonio about arrangements for the Christmas Masses and the Parish team have put an enormous amount of thought into the problem. It seems that the situation is very fluid and only the other night I sat and listened to the Prime Minister bringing in new regulations. I suspect that will not be the last such announcement before Christmas.
The Diocese works closely with the office of the Chief Medical Officer. I gather that the emphasis for health & safety has now shifted away from touch infection to infection from droplets from people’s breath and, especially, droplets projected out of our mouths when we speak or sing, (aspiration). This certainly points towards the importance of wearing facemasks wherever possible and our policy in our three churches for the moment is that we expect people to wear facemasks for their own protection and the protection of those around them. This has now been confirmed by HMG and is to be the rule for places of worship. Of course we know that there are some who are exempt from this for medical reasons etc.
As to Christmas Masses, AT THE MOMENT I can say that our intention is that we will have Masses on Christmas ‘eve, at St Joseph’s, at 5pm, 7pm, and midnight; and on Christmas Day at 9 and 11; at 9am at Most Holy Redeemer and at 11.30am at Holy Cross/St Andrew’s. All these Masses will be simple Masses (no dressing up our children and bringing them up on to the Sanctuary etc., this year I am afraid). There will only be a little singing and that will be through masks. There will be no standing allowed at any of the Masses in any of the churches.
Places at the Masses at St Joseph’s will be by BOOKING only, on the website or by telephone call to the Parish Office (01279 654063, 9am to 3pm each weekday). Remember there will be 5 Masses in all at St Joseph’s (Christmas ‘eve and Christmas Day), so we are sincerely hoping that people will be able to spread themselves out over those 5 Masses. If you have not booked, you will not get in. Please do not turn up “on spec”. Booking for the St Joseph’s Masses will open at midday on Friday 17 December.
The next day – St Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day (Sunday) there will be the usual Sunday morning Masses at all three churches but no evening Mass.
As I said above all of this might well have to change as we get nearer to Christmas so we must wait and see. I will write again in the newsletter next week if there are any updates to give, so watch this space!