The Parish and Coronavirus Restrictions

CORONAVIRUS, RESTRICTIONS AND
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE PARISH
The page for parish information while we go through the coronavirus pandemic:
how we may be involved in parish life and in helping others

Last updated: 2.20pm Saturday 28  March
You must stay at home!’ See the Prime Minister’s statement here on the BBC news website. 
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has guidelines
here.  It has been made clear that churches may not in fact be open even for private or solitary prayer: we are not to go out except for the limited reasons stated in the Prime Minster’s announcement.

TODAY, FRIDAY 27 MARCH: POPE FRANCIS TO GIVE A SPECIAL URBI ET ORBI (TO THE CITY AND THE WORLD) BLESSING FROM ST PETER’S STEPS 5.00PM UK TIME. LIVE STREAMED ON VATICAN NEWS HERE, EWTN VIA SKY) AND ELSEWHERE. JOIN IN AND PRAY FOR AN END TO THE PANDEMIC, FOR THOSE INFECTED AND THOSE TREATING THEM. 

WATCH MASSES IN ST THOMAS MORE CHURCH ON THE WEBCAM HERE
SEE TODAY’S MASS READINGS HERE
STAY IN TOUCH WITH NEWS LETTERS HERE

From Friday 20 March, all churches, which of course includes this one, have had to suspend all public Masses and acts of worship. We are all now supposed to be in very limited physical contact with other people. We are not supposed to leave our homes except for very limited reasons. The side chapel and the main church are therefore now shut. The church and Masses inside it may be seen via our webcam here.
ALL parish groups and meetings have been suspended.
ALL bookings and meetings in the parish Margaret Roper Room are suspended.

But the parish has not shutdown! THANK YOU for the heartening messages of support that have come in from members of our now ‘online congregation’ after the first Sunday Mass without a congregation.. 

WHAT CAN WE DO? Follow Mass on the webcam, read the notice sheet on this website, look out for other people’s needs, pray. Print off a news sheet for anyone you can safely give it to who has no internet access, that they feel included in the parish. Help those who are isolated for health reasons have everything they need – we have volunteers in the parish ready to help too. Do pray with the parish still, unite yourself to the offering of the Mass and follow it online and make a spiritual communion. See below.

Do consider sending in a selfie or other photos of yourselves, or a drawing by your children of themselves or the family. Fr Stephen will put them in the pews to create a visual reminder of people of the parish. Email stmcov@gmail.com  This has been done by a priest in Italy and although at first sight frivolous it is a real attempt to foster a prayerful remembrance of you all. You are missed!  You can claim the pictures back once the restrictions are over and we return to church.

If you have any suggestions about the information on the website, improving our communication, what we can do to support each other and especially the vulnerable, please do get in touch. Or even if you just want to say hello and are finding isolation a bit trying…

NEED ANY HELP?
KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES? We have volunteers who are willing to help anyone who through isolation needs a hand with shopping or anything else. Please do get in touch via stmcov@gmail.com if you or someone you know needs help. You may ring 02476 411900. Our SVP group is co-ordinating our growing band of helpers. We would rather hear about a need six times over than not hear at all – and do nothing! Don’t hesitate.
There is a list of local businesses providing meals or groceries or both to people self isolated or vulnerable, as put together for a local GP surgery
here

KEEP IN TOUCH Please make use of this website and the parish Twitter account @StThosMore Our most recent Tweets are on the right hand side of this page. Please keep others informed if you can, who do not have access to the internet. You could print off a news sheet and put it through their door, for example. Please, keep in touch!

MASS  carries on in private with only the priest in church – not a deacon, not a server nor anyone else is allowed to be present. But Masses can still be seen and heard over the internet via our parish webcam. Just click here. Times of Masses and all other events are on the news sheet here. (Please do not rely on the times on the page where you view the live stream: go by the news sheet each week. The parish has to ask for changes to the livestream page – it’s run by our livestream provider, not the parish).  There are many ways to take part in Mass on the internet, on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) available through satellite TV, click here for information. Live Streamed Events Here  at St Thomas More This Week:

LIVED STREAMED EVENTS IN THE WEEK
BEGINNING SUNDAY 29 MARCH 2020:

Sun 9.00am Mass (recorded as well)

Mon 9.00am Mass
Tue 6.30pm Mass
Wed 9.00am Mass 
Thu  6.30pm Mass followed by Holy Hour 
Fri 12 noon Mass followed by Stations of the Cross
Sat 9.00 Mass followed by Holy Hour

The Catholic Church has, under these exceptional conditions, removed the obligation to be at Mass on  Sundays. You must not worry about missing Mass. It is a difficult thing but it is no sin not to be there when you can’t be. When viewing Mass, we are encouraged to make an act of Spiritual Communion:   

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. 
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. 
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, 
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

GIVING TO THE PARISH The current situation is going to have a massive affect on everyone in so may ways, including financially. The Church will be affected in this as everyone else.  THANK YOU to everyone who has dropped envelopes through the Presbytery letter box. Such delivery is now possible only as part of your daily single trip for exercise and is thus not an option for  most. The new envelopes are ready, but we cannot give them out.  You might consider giving by Standing Order. Click on this Standing Order Form to see and print a standing order form. Fill in the top section and then return to the Presbytery by post (and NOT your bank) for our parish organiser to complete. Thank youDO NOT WORRY ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO GIVE AT THE MOMENT – pray, follow the government’s guidelines yourself and look out for others.

BAPTISMS AND WEDDINGS Unfortunately, there can be no baptisms (except in danger of death which would not be in church anyway) for the time being. Any already booked are postponed indefinitely until the current restrictions are lifted. Parents will then have to arrange with Fr Stephen a new date. It would be unwise to try to arrange any wedding over the next few months: no church wedding could be certain to go ahead until the restrictions are lifted. Email stmcov@gmail.com .

FUNERALS may presently be celebrated at the crematorium or graveside only with immediate family. Any public Requiem Mass will be be arranged once the current restrictions are lifted. We are sorry about this. Prayers and Mass without a congregation are still being offered: all parishioners whether healthy or sick, living or departed and still prayed for at the daily Mass.

CONFESSION under the latest restrictions seems to be almost impossible except in emergencies. Updates as they come. Remember that an act of perfect contrition, when confession is impossible, suffices. God is not limited by His sacraments. In normal circumstances when they are freely available, we need to make use of them. In these far from normal circumstances, we cannot make use of them: that is no sin and no barrier to God’s grace.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR QUERIES? Simply ring 02476 411900 or email as usual.

LINKS
Cardinal Vincent has issued an encouraging statement, also on video here.
Archbishop Bernard has created a heartening video here.
You may explore the Vatican website from here. The Pope’s daily Mass is accessible on that site.
Please pray! Suggestions here