The Return of Public Mass
This weekend sees the return of Public Masses. We have been saying Masses throughout the lockdown, and praying for you all, especially those of you who we know have been in distress. You may not have known it, but we have held you in our prayers, as I know many of you have remembered us.
The guidelines for opening the Churches are a combination of Government and Diocesan guidelines. We will run through some of the implications in a moment. The most obvious is the change in the Mass times and the number of Masses, both during the week and on the weekend. We have had to be influenced only by the size and layout of each of our four Churches, and trying to coordinate times. The Bishops have not reimposed the Sunday Obligation, so if you wish to come to Mass, then please think of coming to a weekday Mass instead of Sunday. The numbers will be very restricted. The average number allowed at each Church is approximately as follows: Glastonbury 50; Cheddar 25; Shepton 30; Wells 16.
Now that the Churches are open for public Masses, the previous ‘Church Opening times’ are no longer in place. Thank you to all who facilitated our Churches being open. We will still need one person at the door at each Mass, and people to clean the Church after each Mass. We will be in touch if you have helped so far, and if you can help in the future, please let us know. Per week, under the new timetable, Wells will have 3 Masses (two weekday one weekend), Shepton 3 Masses (one weekday, two weekend), Cheddar 3 Masses (one week day two weekend - Fr Wally will also offer weekday Masses in the Classroom), Glastonbury 5 Masses (two weekday, three weekend - as well as daily Latin Mass to which all are welcome). This maximises the number of people we can say Mass for, as well as us keeping somewhere near sane.
The Mass schedule is on the next page of this extended bulletin. Note the changed Mass times, especially that there is no Vigil Mass in Wells. For Vigils and Sundays: there is an additional Vigil Mass in Shepton at 6.00pm (Saturday), an additional Mass in Cheddar at 11.00am in the Classroom, and an additional Mass and changed Mass times at Glastonbury. Please let people know these changes if they do not have access to the internet.
Concerning Mass: Please keep a 2m distance where possible (including coming up to Communion - except in Wells, see below). Use the hand sanitiser when offered. Communion is under one kind, and at the English Masses this must be in the hand. Please leave your collection in the basket provided (please consider making your offering by standing order). There are no Sacristans, Readers, Servers, Bidding Prayers, Extra-ordinary Ministers, shared hymnbooks or Mass leaflets. Singing is not permitted. As you leave Mass, keeping your distance from others and please do not congregate around the doors of the Church. At all other times the Churches have to be kept closed, so that they do not need to be deep cleaned before each Mass. If you have keys, please only enter the Church at the advertised times, or by arrangement with one of us. We have no choice about any of these. We had to get written permission from the Diocese and if we do nor follow these guidelines, then they will be completely closed again.
Because of the very limited numbers, the Sunday Mass in Wells is for people who cannot travel, and who have been isolated/vulnerable. We have been given permission to administer Holy Communion in a particular way so that the Church in Wells can be opened again. If those for whom this is intended are not allowed to make use of it, then we will close this Sunday Mass and say an additional Mass elsewhere.
The format of this new bulletin will change in the coming weeks, but we no longer have the luxury of thinking of my Mass, or even my Parish. We need to know everything that is happening in our four Churches. As someone once said, we are all in this together. Please travel to Mass and be considerate of the needs of other people.
This all seems terribly draconian… but it is better than what we had a week ago. We do not know how long this situation will continue for, but it is going to be months at the very least. If we get into good habits now, then it will be easier in the long run.
We will see you soon!