Friday, 20 March 2020
My Dear Sisters and Brothers
In responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Bishops of England and Wales have issued a statement concerning the celebration of all weekday and Sunday Masses and all other liturgical gatherings. All these must now cease for the time being.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic many aspects of our lives must now change. For us Catholic Christians this includes the many ways in which we publicly express our faith. As from today and to ensure the health and safety of all, to save lives and support the NHS, we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches until further notice or otherwise directed by our Bishops.
St Joseph’s Church will stay open everyday Monday to Sunday from 9am to 9pm. St Elizabeth’s Church will remain closed for now. St Joseph’s Church will be the focal point of prayer, where we can try and make a visit at this difficult time. But please note that weekday and Sunday celebrations of Mass will not take place with a congregation. I shall be celebrating Mass every day for you and for all your intentions and especially for the health, protection and well-being of our parish. I hope to record and transmit the Mass to you via Youtube and / or the parish website. Follow the prayers of the Mass at home. Read the Scriptures. Make a spiritual communion. Very importantly – pray the Rosary and we will get through this crisis together.
I have recorded a message for our parish website which will be posted onto our website later today. As I have said in that message I will be speaking to you at regular intervals. Please bear with me as I try to get used to using the technology.
Our Bishop has assured us that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is undoubtedly the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.
Please keep looking at the parish website – we shall try to update this with news and ways in which we can feed ourselves spiritually at this time.
Also and very importantly we need to have a care for others who will be feeling frightened and isolated at this time. Keep an eye on your neighbours and friends. Make regular phone calls to each other.
Not to be able to celebrate Mass with you is painful for all of us including me. But these are extraordinary days. As I have said in my message recorded today: Don’t be afraid! As a Catholic family we are united in our prayer and in our love and support for one another and all those around us.
May God bless you all.
Fr John Lee
St Joseph’s and St Elizabeth’s
Maidenhead & Cookham