Dear Parishioners,

From the evening of Friday 20th March all public acts of worship in Catholic churches in England and Wales will be suspended until further notice because of the risks presented by the COVID-19 virus. Although perhaps not a great surprise I am sure that it will be a great disappointment to many of you not to be able to be present at Mass and to receive Holy Communion. People will also ask ‘how long is this going to last for?’, at the moment the suspension is open ended and there is no indication of when it may be lifted although the situation will be kept constantly under review.

However this does not mean that the church and the parish have ‘closed down’. We still need to stick together and support one another through prayer and acts of charity. I will try and ensure that the church (at least the Lady Chapel) is kept open as much as possible during the day. If you are healthy and able to be out and about you are welcome to come and pray in the church. Please remember to keep an appropriate distance away from others.

I will also continue to offer Mass each day praying for all the intentions of the parish including especially those who are ill or suffering at this time. I will also try and remember particular intentions and anniversaries as have been notified to the parish office. The church does permit a priest to celebrate Mass without any of the faithful present when there is a good and reasonable cause to do so, and the current situation is certainly such a cause.

There are many resources on the internet and on TV to help people to pray and continue their spiritual journey during these difficult times. Some are listed in the newsletter, and further suggestions will follow in coming weeks. If you have come across something that is helpful to you then please let me know and we can list it in future newsletters.

It is my hope that we continue to have a weekly newsletter, at least available on-line through the parish web-site. It will be one way of keeping in touch. As I mentioned last weekend if you are at home on your own and would like prayer or indeed some practical help then please ring or e-mail.

One thing that we want to continue with is our support for the Birchwood Larder. If you bring bags of food please leave them in the Lady Chapel and I will arrange for them to be moved to the sacristy from where they can be taken to the Larder. I am sure the demand for the services of the Larder will be greater than ever in these coming weeks.

I am sure that there will be more to share in the coming weeks, but perhaps that is sufficient for today. Let us pray for one another!

Fr Eddy Jarosz (Parish Priest)

Wednesday 18 March