|Letter from Fr Mark McManus 22nd January|
|Dear Parishioners of St Joseph's & St Charles,|
|Our public Masses this coming week at St Joseph's church should be:
Saturday, 23 January, at 5.00pm &
Sunday, 24 January, at 9.00am & 10.00am
Tuesday, 26 January, at 10.00am &
Friday, 29 January, at 10.00am
There is a clear message that we should 'Stay at Home' and do everything to minimise contacts outside our household. In general, this seems to be being observed and it is noticeable that our congregations have been smaller in number - though this might be due, despite the heating, to it being cold in church! Either way, we give thanks to all those who keep the light of faith alight at home or in church and we pray we may continue to operate in safety and give witness to the world.
It is just over three-and-a-half weeks to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and it would seem improbable that ashes will be distributed on that day. Likewise, with Holy Week just over nine weeks away and Easter Sunday ten, it is reasonable to suppose that there will still be some limitations concerning public worship with regard to the amount of time and numbers in church, etc., and that our ceremonies will be affected also. For example, I do not see any Washing of Feet or communal Kissing of the Cross taking place. Hopefully, as time moves on, we will get a clearer sense of things. For now though, it would be good to start thinking about our spiritual observance of Lent - despite the fact that we all probably feel like we've already given enough up! - and how we might climb the holy mountain to Easter.
I will prepare some suggestions for prayer and offer a list of charities and causes that we might wish to support as part of our almsgiving.
Attending churchThe latest H.M. Government Guidance for Places of Worship states that 'You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship.' So, if we do decide to go to Mass, we must take our privilege to meet responsibly and observe that we 'not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble if you do attend.'
Please remember that there is no obligation to attend the public celebration of Mass at present and that you can make a spiritual offering of your own self-denial. Let us remain vigilant and do all that we can to respect the health and safety of each other. If you are in the shielding category please follow guidance from the NHS.
Some churches, even here in Sheffield, have taken the decision to temporarily close - playing their part in relieving pressure on the NHS - but I hope we are able to remain open while we can.
We have to leave the doors open to ensure adequate ventilation. It will be cold in church, so wrap up warm.
FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED IN CHURCH
UNLESS YOU HAVE AN EXEMPTION THIS IS NOW LAW
For those who have been vaccinated please remember that this does not provide immunity from the COVID Virus but in the majority of cases does prevent severe symptoms developing.
You MUST NOT come to church if: You are unwell or somebody in your household has coronavirus symptoms, for example a cough or high temperature. Please follow the directions of the stewards.
Some Intentions for PrayerHere are some intercessions that you may wish to use in your personal or family prayer.
First Holy Communion 2020 & 2021The 2020 Class: Thankfully, some preparation was undertaken before the pandemic began and our catechist Louise will be in touch with last year's group to establish what 'refreshers' and possible conclusion to preparation are required. I am mindful of a child's spiritual right to receive the Sacrament and, to avoid undue delay, to offer First Holy Communion on an individual basis at any Mass in the forthcoming months - though I am still hopeful we might yet manage something more communal around May.
The 2021 Class: Clearly preparation is going to be a challenge and I cannot yet offer a firm date for an actual celebration. To begin with we need to assess our numbers and so I invite parents of this year's Year 3 children (and above) who wish to make their First Holy Communion this year at St Joseph's or St Charles to e-mail me and I will send them a registration form. Given the difficulties of attending Mass, I cannot stress enough the need for families to engage in the process of preparing their child for this most Blessed Sacrament. I thank you all for your patience and understanding.
Church Cleaning & StewardingThe continuing work of our voluntary church cleaners and stewards remains the bedrock of our ability to open and use our church. Without them the church would be closed and we are immensely thankful for all that they do. If you have returned to church, have seen how things are done, and now feel ready and able to volunteer then please contact me. More hands help spread the load. Thank you.
Weekly Offertory EnvelopesAn order for offertory envelopes for 2021 is due to be placed at the beginning of January. However, during lockdown, a number of you who generally use envelopes have kindly made your donation by bank transfer instead. You may now wish to continue making an offering this way once we return to more 'normal' times. If you decide that you no longer want to use an envelope please advise us by the end of the year so that our order can be amended. If you are a tax payer and have signed a declaration your offering will still be recorded for gift aid purposes regardless of which method you use to donate.
Car ParkingDrivers should note that the logs that previously marked part of the border of the presbytery lawn have been replaced with stones. Do feel free to use the available parking space at the church but do be aware of the need to socially distance upon entering and exiting your car.
Track & Trace App & QR CodeWe shall continue to record the names and contact details for people attending the church for private prayer. We now display at the entrance to the church and also inside a QR code so that, if you have a smartphone, you can scan the QR code when you arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. This is to help trace and stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Finally, this week's newsletter is here.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
With my prayers,
Rev. Mark McManus