Letters from Fr John

11 July

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s 

My letter of the last two weekends were concerned with the practical details of the reopening of churches. This weekend, I wanted to return to my normal practice of sending you a little reflection on the Sunday Gospel. But there are some details to share about the return of public Masses. Therefore I am writing a second letter to you.

The Health and Safety requirements are now almost all in place at St Jerome’s Church. There has been a reorganisation of furniture, new signage, sanitation stations and other provisions put in place. The church has to be inspected this week to ensure that it complies with the requirements. Then it will receive a deep clean. 

We have been authorised to cater for a maximum of 68 people at each celebration of Mass at St Jerome’s. After looking at all the various possibilities of how to manage the numbers, the deanery clergy have agreed to use a ‘first come, first served’ process. To me, it seems to be the best solution. 

In order that Mass be celebrated, a total of 4 stewards are required for each Mass. The duties of the stewards are as follows; to receive people at the church door and direct them to the hand sanitizer and then to their place in church. To carefully count the number of people arriving and once the maximum number has been reached, to close the doors of the church. To direct people to receive holy communion and to make sure people exit the church safely. Finally, the stewards will be asked to sanitize the benches where people have been sitting.

Full protection will obviously be provided for each steward. Contact will be kept to a minimum as much as possible. Careful instruction will be provided for each steward before Masses begin again. 

I now invite any member of our parishes who feels able to volunteer for this service to contact us through the parish email in the next couple of days. We will then get in contact with you to explain what you need to do next. I am proposing that the Mass times at St Jerome’s will follow the usual pattern for now; Saturday at 6.00pm and Sunday morning at 9.00am and 11.00am. Because St Anne’s is not reopening at the present time, I am celebrating their 9.00am Mass at St Jerome’s to cater for them. But all 3 Masses are obviously open to all. The Dean will confirm these Mass times in the coming week.

More details will be given in the days ahead. There are two weeks remaining until our Masses begin again. We are working to get everything safely in place before then.

One final point. It is essential that 4 stewards are in attendance at each Sunday Mass. If we do not get the volunteers, then the Mass cannot go ahead. I have been hearing of one or two sad situations across the diocese where Masses have begun, of too few volunteers which has meant that Masses were cancelled. So I leave this with you.

I shall be in touch soon with further details of our reopening.

God bless you all,

Father John