I write to you today with a heavy heart. Having taken advice from parishioners and other clergy, I think we must close our churches for the celebration of Mass. As you know, we have been pondering this for a few days but the advice from the government scientist and medical experts is that we must take every possible precaution for our own sakes and for the safety of others - even living with the assumption that we have the virus.
Churches have been amongst the safest of places for people to gather, albeit in small numbers, and our volunteer stewards and organisers have been remarkable in their attention to detail and concern for worshippers; our great thanks go out to them. However, I feel that for the time being our best way to share in the sacrifice of the Mass is to sacrifice our physical attendance and share our prayer privately at home or on Zoom or via live-streamed Masses.
Our forbears knew what it was like to miss Mass throughout the many and various persecutions but they emerged from those times with even greater strength and conviction: we will do the same.
I hope that as the vaccine is rolled out to more people and infection rates begin to come down again, we will be able to re-open. We shall re-examine the situation every week. As soon as we can, we will open the church for private prayer but that too is not risk-free.
Please, please let us keep praying for each other and especially for those who are most isolated and vulnerable, young and old. Let’s support each other in whatever way we can - that’s the strength of the Body of Christ, a real and tangible presence.
This closure begins today and so we will have Mass on Zoom at 12.00pm, Wednesday at 10.00am and Thursday at 6.00pm. as the days go on we can resume our ‘zoomed’ exposition. The details will be in Saturday’s newsletter.
I am sorry but I don’t see any alternative for now.
St Joseph, patron of the Church in all its struggles, pray for us