25th Sunday of the Year 2020

Dear Friends in Christ

Once again it was wonderful to see so many people returning to Sunday Mass. With our children returning to school, and families trying their best to maintain some semblance of normality during these difficult times, it is imperative that our lives of faith should also continue with the practice of weekly faith. It was wonderful to have been able to live-stream, literally from day one, but as Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said last weekend, with the Holy Father’s approval, it is “necessary and urgent” to return to in-person Masses as soon as coronavirus lockdowns permit. I think we would all agree with this sentiment. Unfortunately, negative reporting doesn’t help; it has evoked an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in many people. If we are sensible, following Governmental guidelines, practicing social distancing, washing our hands regularly, using sanitisers, wearing face coverings, manifestly this will assist in helping to protect everyone. Sadly, not everyone adheres to these guidelines. It has been noted statistically that the highest rate of transmission at present in now in the younger age groups. The ‘rule of 6’ is there to protect us.

As the autumn and winter months rapidly approach, and as colds an winter flu emerge, its so important that our Senior Citizen get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Scientifically it has been observed that the wearing of face coverings and the washing and sanitising of hands will certainly decrease the likelihood of catching colds and flu, let alone Covid 19. STAY ALERT! Obviously, of late, many people have lowered their guard, hence the increase of cases.

As you know the Church has been open since 4th July; many parishioners have returned to the weekly practice of faith. But many have not, especially families. With the return to school, I would like to encourage our families to come back to church. I sent a letter out a couple of days ago ‘COME BACK TO ME’, and hope you’ve had a chance to read it. We have employed every measure possible to ensure the safety of all our parishioners. Keep Safe & Well!

‘COME BACK TO ME’ SAYS THE LORD

Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,

I am writing this letter to all our parishioners; all our lay faithful and all in our schools’ communities. To everyone of good will, and to anyone searching for God, and to all who seek to know his Son Jesus Christ. I say to all of you: Come Back! Come back to Mass! Come back to Church for private prayer! Come and visit Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament! You are always welcome – we have missed you!

These past six months have been extraordinary! This pandemic has caused great harm, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Sadly, many have fallen sick and some have lost their lives. At the same time our medical staff and key workers have responded incredibly with unconditional generosity and courage. We have learnt to become creative in live-streaming which has taken place from day one. Keeping in touch with our parishioners through WhatsApp, online Newsletters, Phone calls. I have attended the Hospital several times in end-of-life situations celebrating the Last Sacraments. Now our schools, colleges & Universities and many others are returning to work; we must keep up this good work. Let us all keep safe and well. And let us pray to the Lord for an ending to this pandemic, the invention of a vaccine and the restoration of ordinary life.

I take this opportunity of truly welcoming back the many parishioners who have already returned to Weekly Mass. I’m also very aware that many parishioners may still be very nervous about returning. Some are still self-shielding, the sick & vulnerable. Moreover, I am aware that the infection-rate is varying, and there may even be the possibility of facing local lockdowns. For everyone this requires care, prudence and adjustments. As the autumn and winter rapidly approaches, rather than focusing on what we cannot do, let us focus on what we can do, so that the great mission of the Church can continue to move forward, and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may continue to be preached.

Ultimately, this pandemic has shown us how fragile life can be. We cannot become complacent. It has caused us to review our priorities. For 14 weeks our churches were closed; there was no public celebration of Holy Mass, we have had to face our own mortality and the question of God. I know many people felt bereft of the Sacraments, and especially in receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Many have followed Mass online and spoke of their hunger and thirst for the Lord. Online has its place; but nothing can replace being present with the worshipping community and receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. ‘Come back to me!’

This is the reason why I invite all of you to: Come back to the Lord to be nourished by his Word & His Sacraments. We have adapted the Church to meet all Governmental & Diocesan guidelines; social distancing, hand sanitisation, face coverings, etc. Sadly, few families have returned to weekly mass, even though the children have returned to full-time education. Please seriously consider your return to the practice of your weekly faith with the worshipping community. The church has now been opened for ten weeks. Jesus said: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27)? What about his promise: “Anyone who eats my flash and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him” (John 6;56)? What about his invitation: “Come follow me” (Mark 1:7)? His offer: “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10)? Surely, we do not follow Jesus our Lord and Master simply out of habit or duty? No, we follow Him because we love Him. We follow Him because He has called us by name. We follow Him because He is our Saviour. He gave His life for us.

May Our Lord & Our Blessed Lady, our patrons St. Edmund of Canterbury & St. Thomas More, pray for you and protect you. May they obtain for you freedom from fear. May they inspire in you a generous response to the Lord’s call – Come back to me!

With Peace & Love

God Bless you All

Rev Canon John J Harvey

24th Sunday of the Year 2020

Dear Friends in Christ

It was truly wonderful to see so many of our families returning to Mass last weekend. People are trying their hardest to return to some semblance of normality, but every day the Government are announcing new measures to combat the upsurge in Covid 19 cases. As many people are not adhering to the social distancing rules, there has been a spike this week in our country. Unfortunately, all the negative reporting doesn’t help either; it is invoking an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in many people.

If we are sensible and follow the guidelines, especially with regard to social distancing and warning face coverings, not socialising with friends, we may not have seen for a long time, we can do our bit to help stop the spread of this dreadful disease. As we enter the autumn and winter seasons, and as the cold and flu season is rapidly approaching, it is so important that our Senior Citizens all avail themselves of the Flu vaccine. Hopefully this will assist and help everyone. Scientifically it has been observed that the wearing of face coverings and the washing and sanitising of hands will certainly decrease the likelihood of catching colds and flu, let alone Covid 19. STAY ALERT! Obviously, of late, many people have lowered their guard, hence the increase of cases.

Here at St. Edmund’s our main objective is to keep everyone safe, that’s why the Government and Diocesan guidelines are in place. Many of you will have already seen the letter I sent out a few days ago. Our parish family is so important, and our love and care and concern for one another are fundamentally at the heart of our parish life. I have made an executive decision to add an additional Mass at 10.00am on Sunday mornings; this is a temporary measure, but hopefully it will accommodate more people and avoid overcrowding and people having to stand outside the church. Also, the one disabled toilet will be open for use. I do ask all parishioners to kindly respect cleanliness measures in the bathroom, there will be hand sanitiser outside the toilet, and soap in the toilet. Please ensure you leave the bathroom in the way you found it. Parents kindly accompany your children, if they need to use the bathroom. Thank you!

This is a very important message about weekend masses.

Dear Parishioners,

Father John and Robin Bradley (our safety officer) have decided upon some Health and Safety changes. At all times Father and Robin see our safety as a top priority and the changes will help keep us as safe.

There are three changes (each is discussed in detail below):

1.       There will be an additional mass each Sunday at 10am.

2.       There will be a simple system to record contact numbers to help with track-and-trace.

3.       A toilet will be available in the hall, with special measure in place to make it safe.

Father is so pleased that people are coming back to Mass in such good numbers and to help make sure we can keep our social distancing Father has decided to introduce an additional mass at 10am. So, on Sundays we will now have masses at 9am, 10am and 11am. Time is needed between masses for sanitising the church and so Father will do his best to keep the 9am and 10am mass to 35 minutes whilst maintaining the spirituality and prayerfulness of the mass.

With increasing cases of Covid-19 being registered in the country and increasing attendance at mass it is becoming likely that at some stage mass-goers will need to be contacted for track and trace purposes. Father and Robin have decided that we now need to introduce a contact tracing system. This will be very simple and in accordance with GDPR and government guidelines. Each bench in the church will now have a number attached. On arriving at the church each person or family group will be handed a slip of paper and a pen. Parishioners should take their seat and then record on the slip the bench number, their name and a contact number. These slips of paper will be stored in a sealed bag for 21 days and then discarded. They will only be used if Father is approached by NHS Test, Track and Trace and, importantly, it means only those sitting nearby the original case will need to be contacted. It should be mentioned that pens will be specific for each mass and carefully processed so they are Covid-19 free.

Father and Robin have decided that it is now appropriate to open the disabled toilet in the hall. The other toilets will not be open. There will be sanitisers outside the toilet and liquid soap inside the toilet and notices reminding users to sanitise/wash/dry hands carefully and leave toilets in the clean state they find them.

Father John, Robin Bradley and Iain McLay

23rd Sunday of the Year 2020

Dear Friends in Christ

Daily we receive updates on the Covid-19 situation at home and abroad. These are unprecedented times; as this Pandemic has spread throughout the whole world, naturally one’s health and safety always come first. There is still a great deal of fear in some people, even though Governmental guidelines have been put in place. I spoke to someone recently who hasn’t been out since last March. How to regain that confidence and surety once again is a gargantuan task. I am hoping that with the return of our children to school, it will instil hope and confidence in our families.

For those who have returned to the regular practice of faith, you have witnessed for yourselves, that we have put all the Governmental and diocesan guidelines in place in our church in insure your health and safety. Hit and miss appearances at mass is certainly not what being a practicing Catholic is all about! I really believed, perhaps naively, that this Pandemic would have focused everyone’s hearts and minds on what really matters in life, especially in the area of faith; sadly, it appears that I was wrong! Talking to priest friends all over the world, the same scenario exists in their countries as well. During the lockdown, I livestreamed Holy Mass each day. My worry now is that the livestreaming is being used as an alternative to the return to church, or in fact, no contact with church at all. Nothing can replace the actual being present and receiving Our Lord through Holy Communion at Holy Mass. I appeal to all our parishioners, especially our young families, to come back home to the Lord.

There is still quite a lot of space at our Weekend Masses, especially at our Saturday evening Vigil Mass at 6.00pm. Manifestly, as you’re probably aware that face coverings are required, unless you have exemption or underlying breathing problems. This not only protects you but everyone else as well. We do want to regain some semblance of normality once again in our daily and weekly lives. Also there is a speaker outside the Church transmitting the Mass.