TO THE PEOPLE OF ST EDMUND OF CANTERBURY and ST THOMAS MORE PARISH, LOUGHTON

Dear Friends in Christ,
As we continue our Journey through this Lenten Season, you receive our Weekly Newsletter encouraging you all in the disciplines of Lent.
You may have been following all the News Reports about the success of the Vaccine in the United Kingdom, and how we are further advanced than the whole of Europe in the numbers of persons who have already been vaccinated.  Speaking to many of our parishioners who have received their first ‘jab’, it has really given them a deep sense of security and of course hope for the future.  As I shared with you a couple of weeks ago advice from two scientists that I had spoken to, and this has been confirmed recently in the press and the news, the first jab is giving up to 85% to 90% protection against Coronavirus. This is truly a wonderful advancement in science over the past twelve months. 
Locally the numbers of people catching Coronavirus has drastically decreased, and we are now below  average in this particular locality. With the return our our children to school next Monday, it is hoped that this will be the final lockdown. Obviously, the Government is erring on the side of caution and that’s why there are 5 weeks in between each opening of the public sectors.
Throughout this Pandemic, our prime concern here at St. Edmund’s has always been the Health & Safety of everyone who walks through the doors of the Church. Every single parish has been affected by the absence of so many of the faithful at Church. People have spoken about the desire to return to normal, whatever normal is, but many people are still frightened.  I personally want to reassure all of our parishioners here at St. Edmunds that we have taken every single precaution necessary in accord with Government, Public Health England & Diocesan Guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone. We have followed a track & trace scheme since we opened last July, and not one case has been reported in that period of time; we request hand sanitisation as you enter and leave the Church; We ask that you follow the Stewards directions to your seats and at the distribution of Holy Communion; It is Law to wear face masks in enclosed buildings; we have ensured that there is plenty of ventilation in the Church before, during and after each Mass & Service; The Church is sanitised by the stewards after each communal celebration. I would like to thank our team of Stewards who have made it possible for our Church to remain open.
As our numbers have been increasing again over the past couple of weeks, our people are returning, I will be reintroducing the additional 10.00am Mass on a Sunday morning. Last weekend our 11.00am Mass reached full capacity, and some people were standing outside the Church. I never want to turn anyone away from Holy Mass, that’s why I’m reintroducing the 10.00am Mass again.   I invite all of our parishioners to seriously think about attending Holy Mass, especially if you’ve been absent over the past twelve months. Therefor Sunday Masses are as follows:  Vigil Mass on Saturday evening at 6.00pm. Sunday Morning Masses 9.00am, 10.00am & 11.00am. Please consult your Parish Newsletter weekly for Times and Intentions of all masses, and all the special Lenten Services. Thank you!
May God Bless You All; and my continued thanks for your generous support an upkeep of the parish, especially during this Pandemic.
Fr. John 

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