|Letter from Fr Mark McManus (8th May)|
|Dear Parishioners of St Joseph's & St Charles,|
|It seems likely as I write that we may soon, please God, see some changes in the way our country observes the current pandemic and that things may begin to ease a little.
Hopefully, our public access to a church will be one such aspect of 'normal' life that will be quickly restored to us. However, it is not yet clear in what form this will take place, e.g. just for private prayer, or small-number funerals, etc. What is certain is that we will have to observe social-distancing for quite some time yet and therefore our churches will not have their regular seating capacity.
Following a simple repeating pattern of two people sat at either end of a bench with one person sat behind them in the middle of the next bench and then two in the next bench, etc., gives St Joseph’s, for example, a seating capacity of 77 people (there is some space for the odd chair also). The fact that a family group could share a bench would slightly alter the pattern and number. Now it is likely of course, that for a variety of reasons, 'demand' will not be the same as usual and the number we need to accommodate therefore diminished.
There will probably be requirements concerning hand-gel and masks and possibly priests wearing gloves for distributing Holy Communion. We will likely need people willing to volunteer and help prepare and clean our churches and be available to steward folks also. Who knows? Rather than anticipate the details I would simply ask that we begin to put ourselves mentally and spiritually in a place where we expect things to be still challenging. What will be required from us all is patience and forbearance, along with a lively sense of charity and service. Consideration for the well-being and health of everyone must be our guiding light along with a willingness to be adaptable and not allow selfishness or pride to rule our hearts.
I am told that crowdfunding is very popular these days. For now, might I ask that we try our own simple version and together crowdfund some sanitising hand-gel? I would simply ask that when you are shopping you add a dispenser of sanitising hand gel and, when the time comes, bring it along and donate it to the church.
Please God we will have some good news soon and be able to take further practical steps towards the public celebration of our Christian faith.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
With my prayers,
Fr Mark McManus