CELEBRATING THE SACRAMENTS

CELEBRATION OF THE MASS

It is great that Masses have started once again in our parishes. It was a long three and a half months when our churches were closed. Last week, the numbers at Mass were in the high 20s to 30s. This is a good start after such a long time and also bearing in mind the capacity of the church is not much more than that at the moment anyway.

SUNDAY OBLIGATION – The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have removed the obligation to attend Sunday Mass due to the current circumstances. However, should a person wish to attend Mass, even during the week, this would fulfil your Sunday obligation, if you wish to still do so.
May I just say, please be very careful coming to church, for your sake and for the sake of others. Please do not take any risks – these strange times will eventually pass, but in the meantime let us do all we can to keep everyone as safe as possible

CHANGES AT MASS – As those who have attended Mass now know, things are somewhat different in church now, for various reasons. These changes are temporary and eventually things will get back to some kind of normality. However, I do think the current arrangements are here for a long time to come. This is in order to keep us as safe and reduce the risk of the spread of infection as much as possible.

BOOKING SYSTEM – I am delighted to say that the Booking System, both the online one and the telephone one are working very well. Thank you for your cooperation with this. I know it feels very strange for us to have to book a place in church. Thank you for your understanding at this time. Thanks especially to Michelle & Patrick Anderson who worked very hard to get the Online Booking System up and running for us. We were one of the first parishes in the Diocese to be ready to open our doors to you once again. This would not have been possible without the help and skills of Michelle and Patrick. We are all very grateful.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – However, for Masses to continue, your help is needed. I need volunteers to be ready wearing PPE to welcome people and record their names when they arrive for Mass and also to help with the cleaning of the church after each Mass.
If you are able to offer your help with a particular Mass, please contact Fr Eamonn and I will put your names to that Mass.

TEMPORARY NEW MASS TIME-TABLE – due to all the restrictions that are now in and the added burden upon people who are helping, it has been necessary to alter the Mass time- table. This is only a temporary measure until such time as things get back to some normality.

THIS IS A TEMPLATE OF THE TEMPORARY MASS TIMETABLE

This time table is provisional and temporary, dependent upon any changes from the Government and any subsequent updates which are issued by the Diocese.
All Masses are dependent upon having sufficient stewards and also people available to clean the church afterwards.
Once things eventually get back to some normality, and the restrictions are not in place, then our parishes will return to our usual Masses once again.
I will keep to this new time-table as much as possible, but obviously if a funeral comes in, then Mass times may have to change that particular week. For example, there is a funeral this coming Thursday, so the Mass time in St Patrick’s will change for that day.
Please refer to the parish website for the latest information or phone Fr Eamonn on; (01924) 474650 for the latest information.

‘THANK YOU’ TO OUR CURRENT VOLUNTEERS – May I once again, say a big ‘thank you’ to all who help with our Masses – it really is very much appreciated. Your help is invaluable and Masses could not take place without your support and help. On behalf of us all a sincere ‘thank you’. As always, more helpers are always welcome to share the load.

READERS AT MASS – May I just gently remind all readers, that if they are down to read at any of the Masses, please wear protective gloves whilst you are reading. This is to avoid any possible cross-contamination of the infection.

EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS – Unfortunately at the moment I will not need the help of our Eucharistic Ministers. However I will keep the rota live and up to date so when we are able to return to normal, we are ready to begin straight away.

RECORDED PARISH MASSES – I will continue to record the weekly Sunday Mass for a few more weeks. Thank you to Michelle & Patrick Anderson for all the hours of work they have put in to enable me to record the Masses for you. It is much appreciated by us all. To access these Masses click here.

PARISH LIVE-STREAMED MASSES – I am now in the process of installing a live stream facility in both St Mary’s and St Patrick’s. This will mean that you will be able to access both weekday and Sunday Masses live, as well as any funerals, weddings etc. that take place in our churches. I am sure this will be a very welcome addition to our parish life and will mean that those who are unable to come to church are still able to be part of our parish prayer life. Please bear with me as I get this facility installed and up and running. I do think, this is something more and more parishes will be using in future – not just during these testing times with the virus.

For full details of the Bishop’s Guidelines, please click here.

CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM

As you may recall, sadly at the start of the lock-down I had to postpone 24 baptisms (not to mention 6 more families who have requested baptism during the lock-down). This has been very tough for all the families concerned. This week, we finally received permission to recommence celebrating Baptisms in church albeit with certain restrictions in place. This is great news and one that will be very welcome by many families.
This week I have phoned about 30 families informing them that we are now in a position to rearrange their child’s baptism.
Some families are opting to wait until the New Year before they rearrange their child’s baptism, in the hope that things will be less restrictive both in church and in the reception venues after the baptism.
However, many families are very happy to start to plan their child’s baptism as soon as possible, even with the restrictions in place.

SINGLE BAPTISMS ONLY – I had hoped that I would be able to do double baptisms in order to try and catch up more quickly. However, the Guidelines from Bishop Marcus quite rightly advise that double baptisms are to be avoided as this increases the risk of spreading the virus across different families. So each baptism that is to take place in St Mary’s and St Patrick’s will be celebrated individually.

LIMIT OF 30 PEOPLE – The Government has set the legal limit of any celebrations in church, whether baptisms, weddings or funerals to 30 people. This will be strictly adhered to. When a couple ask for their child to be baptised, they have been asked to give me a list of those who are invited along with contact details in order to comply with Track & Track Recording.

PROTOCOLS IN CHURCH – just as we do for Mass, the one-way system in church will be inforce along with the required social distancing. Families in the same household / bubble may sit together. But otherwise people must sit at the required 2 metre distance.
At the moment congregational singing is not permitted in church

RITE OF BAPTISM – The Rite of Baptism itself will be much the same, however there will be a few slight changes, all for the sake of keeping everybody safe. I will explain these as we go along – or feel free to phone me should you have any concerns.

DATE OF BAPTISM – Baptisms take place by appointment with Fr Eamonn. As explained above, only one child at a time will be baptised in order to avoid the risk of spreading the virus among different families.

St Mary’s, Batley Baptisms take place on Sundays at 11.30am 
St Patrick’s, Birstall Baptisms take place on Saturdays at 11.00am

For full details of the Bishop’s Guidelines, please click here.

CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE

Sadly since the start of lockdown, I have had 3 weddings postponed. Some couples are still hoping for their weddings to go ahead later I the year, but are as yet, undecided about what to do. I can totally understand their predicament.

LIMIT OF 30 PEOPLE – Thankfully the Government have now given us permission to celebrate weddings in church, but as for baptisms, only 30 people may attend, including the couple.

WEDDING MASSES NOT PERMITTED AT THIS TIME – It is urged that weddings be conducted as quickly as possible, ‘the shortest reasonable time’, without rushing them. At this moment in time, if a wedding is to take place, it must be in the context of a Wedding Service not a Mass.

At the moment congregational singing is not permitted in church.
There are a few slight common sense changes in the service, which I will explain as we go along – or feel free to phone me if you need further clarification.

SOCIAL DISTANCE – During the wedding, all the invited guests must practice social distancing. With regards photographs, group photos may take place but people must be socially distant (apart from the bride and groom and those in the same households or support bubbles).

For full details of the Bishop’s Guidelines please click here.

CELEBRATION OF CONFESSION

Next week I will once again be in a position to offer the sacrament of Confessions (Reconciliation). This as you can imagine will be under heavy restrictions to ensure the safety of both penitent and priest.

The use of the confessional box at this time is discouraged as the air flow inside is not good. However, if the penitent would prefer the confessional box, it is allowed, but not face to face. Confessions may take place for example in a side chapel, with the priest and penitent sitting socially distant and not facing each other.

People are now free to give me a ring and arrange a time for confession in church with me. This will be done apart from the sacrifice of the Mass, as priests are advised to only hear a limited number of confessions each day, to avoid the risk of contamination.

Whenever a person has come to confession, where they have been will be wiped clean afterwards.

Confessions may now take place outdoors if that would be preferred by the penitent.

For full details of the Bishop’s Guidelines please click here.

CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE SICK

During this time of lock-down, I have only celebrated the Sacrament of the Sick, in cases of emergency when the Last Rites was needed.

EXTREME CAUTION – If sick calls are to be made, extreme caution must be taken to ensure the safety of both the sick person and the priest.

The priest will not turn up unannounced – he must first book or the person may request to see him when needed to give the Sacrament of the Sick.

If the priest needs to use the Rite of the Anointing of the Sick, this must be on a single use piece of paper.

The priest and sick person will keep socially distant and will anoint the sick person using a cotton wool bud. The priest MUST thoroughly wash his hands both before and after the visit.

Just as for Confessions, the priest must limit the number of people he anoints each day, to avoid the spread of the virus.

For full details of the Bishop’s Guidelines please click here.