Parish Priest’s Page

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to worship tomorrow on the second Sunday of Lent it is necessary that I write to you about Corona Virus.

In reflecting on my response to what is happening I was very much struck by a very informed commentator I saw quoted online earlier:

“I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.

Our children will thank us for it.”

I am keen not to get caught up in any media frenzy, whilst equally responding proportionately in a way that respects those who are most vulnerable so that we can sustain our shared worshipping life. I am mindful that the vulnerable in this instance includes your Parish Priest as a chronic asthmatic, and of course both my colleagues Fr Robert and Fr Robin are out of action currently too, so you all have a vested interest in my wellbeing in particular!

In church there will be a number of things that will be different and that we ask you to follow, for your good and for us all:

  1. At home do of course wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, do drink fluids, little and often is recommended
  2. If you are not 100% well please ask yourself if it is wise to come to Church. If you do and have any kind of minor cough etc then it is essential you use tissues, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin – some people are carrying a plastic bag with them to store used tissues for disposal at home.
  3. On arrival at church for services or events there will be sanitiser gel available, please use it
  4. We won’t be sharing the peace, at least not physically. At the weekday Masses this week we have been putting our hands together and bowing at the person we have been sharing the peace with, it’s a little odd at first, but becomes quite natural quite quickly I have found!
  5. After careful thought I have decided we will not be sharing the chalice. As on Good Friday, Communion will be shared in one kind only, the consecrated bread. The Church teaches that the fullness of Christ is received in receiving either Christ’s body or his precious blood, (the doctrine of Concomitance) so do not worry that you are being short changed!

 

In addition to these things rest assured that your Church Officers supported by advice from the national church and diocese, and by the two retired GPs we have in our congregations, have been working with me to ensure that a number of simple changes are happening behind the scenes to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing. Those who are involved in setting up for worship, welcoming and catering, for instance, will be briefed appropriately about anything you need to be aware of.

Whilst the vast majority of church members locally receive my emails, if you are aware of a friend or neighbour who doesn’t, then please could I ask you to share this with them please?

And finally do not forget to pray. And most especially for those in Government and within the NHS who are at the front line of handling this situation.

Kind regards,

Fr Gary

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