Newsletters

 
 
 
 
 

Here is the Update to the 2/22nd January Newsletter (link below):

Dear All,

 
Our daily and week-end Masses continue at the usual times and places.  Bishop John Sherrington, one of the auxiliary Bishops of the Diocese of Westminster issued a statement a few days ago which I have appended to the bottom of this email. We are planning times of Exposition for silent prayer at Stow. I will be in touch when we have made firm arrangements.
 
I know that some of you who were attending Mass now feel that you should not do so because of the heightened pandemic. I completely respect that, and people must follow safety and common sense within their own situation. I do actually believe that the precautions we all take make our churches as safe as it is possible to be, and certainly safer than most supermarkets and essential shops. I am relieved that we are allowed to continue the steady heartbeat of our Faith.
 
Advanced notice that Candlemas (The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord), Tuesday 2nd February, will be celebrated at Stow at 6 pm, with the Blessing of Candles.  There will be no Mass at Bourton that morning.
 
Ash Wednesday  17th February will be celebrated at 6 pm at Stow and there will be no morning Mass at Stow that morning. The Imposition of Ashes is not allowed, but I am sure we will have instructions on this subject from the Conference of Bishops.
 
10th anniversary of the Ordinariate. Yesterday, January 15th, was the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the ordination of Monsignor Newton, Monsignor Broadhurst and Monsignor Burnham – all ex-Anglican bishops – as Catholic priests in Westminster Cathedral.  Monsignor Newton is our Ordinary (boss!). He cannot be appointed as a bishop, as, like me, he is married! He cannot ordain because he is not a Bishop, so intended priests of the Ordinariate have to be ordained by a bishop ‘brought in’. In my case, it was the Papal Nuncio of the time, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, which was a very special privilege for the two of us ordained on 18th July 2015.
 
Best wishes,  Fr. Stephen.
 
 
Here is Bishop Sherrington’s statement: We are aware that questions are being asked as to why churches remain open during this National Lockdown. We are also aware that many local authorities are calling for places of worship to close. We wish to respond to these concerns.
Churches are allowed to open for prayer and communal worship at this time according to the provision of the most recent national legislation and Government guidance.  
This decision is based on two factors: the recognition that our churches are safe, and that the service they offer is essential.
The safety of our churches has been affirmed by Public Health England (PHE) in its current advice to the Government. This is publicly recognised to be the result of the great efforts made by many people in the implementation of procedures mandated by PHE and thereby establishing the necessary conditions within churches for their safe use.
Our churches are making a significant contribution to the personal resilience and inner strength of people which is much needed at this time. Many are hubs from which essential support is offered especially to those most in need, extending well beyond the faith communities which use them. This includes the regular provision of food; the care of the homeless; and being a place of peace and reflection (which is safe) for many whose living conditions are very limited. This will become more appreciated as the programme of vaccination increases. The vital link between prayer and action is important to maintain this service.
At this phase of the pandemic, which is causing alarm and fear, our churches will exercise their role with increased diligence to ensure continuing safety and service.
Our clergy will ensure that all are aware that there is no duty or responsibility to come to church and communicate to all there is no obligation to attend Mass on Sunday. They will review, in each local area, the provision offered by the church in order to ensure that the highest standards of safety are maintained. This will include a review of the role of stewards, the provision of additional social distancing within the church, a review of cleansing routines, and consideration of the personal circumstances of the priest(s) and people. On this basis there will be a local evaluation and decision about the possible reduction in the times of opening and the frequency of communal worship.
In conclusion we recognise the higher levels of fear and anxiety which the new strain of the virus has prompted and we have a very proper awareness of the care which must be exercised by everyone, under the guidance of PHE health professionals.
We recognise, too, that isolation is having a profound detrimental effect on people and that the role of churches in easing that isolation in ways which are safe and supportive has been recognised as a positive and beneficial contribution to the common good.
We pray for the dedicated work of the NHS and continue to provide spiritual support to staff and patients through the network of chaplains working both in the hospitals and the community.
 

Here is the link to the current newsletter, 2nd – 22nd January:

Newsheet January 3rd 2021

Here is the link to the Winners of our Grand Raffle, which raised just under £4000 and which was drawn on the Solemnity of the Epiphany:

Raffle Prize winners 2021