Route Map for Parish Ministry in Covid-19
Pope Francis: 'Urbi et Orbi' 27th March 2020
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The media are currently indicating that places of worship may now be made available for private visits, as the first stage of moving towards the return to the celebration of Liturgy in our parishes.
The Scottish Bishops have issued a Pastoral Letter, expressing their support for the Church community as we live through this challenging moment.
The Scottish Government, in line with other Devolved Administrations, has outlined a 4-phase 'route-map' to take us forward, through and then out of the current crisis.
As everyone is well aware, during Phase I, no public buildings have been open and this has sensibly included our churches. Much as we regret their closure, we cannot but acknowledge the importance of following scientific advice and Government regulation.
In recent weeks, numbers of deaths and of new infections have decreased and the First Minister has indicated that Phase 2 of the process of moving out of lock-down has now begun.
The Bishops are enthusiastic about welcoming the opportunity to open churches, as outlined in the Government document. We have now opened the church the past two Sundays, for one hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This has involved much preparation and careful attention while people have been in the church building. We will await official guidance on moving forward.
As we move into this new regime, we have to prepare for it by putting quite a range of measures in place. These will make access to, and movement within the church very different from before.
Even if the church is opened only for a very limited time, strict protocols will be in operation. There will be only very limited capacity and some groups of parishioners are advised that they should not yet consider coming to church: those who are 'shielding', those with any underlying health conditions. Those over 70, without particular health issues may now access the Church and volunteer.
The Bishops' Conference and each diocese now have Working Groups to make sure that all the precautions which are needed will in fact be enforced. In our parish also we will have a group to oversee our compliance with the various regulations and to assist parishioners as we progress.
We will need quite an amount of materials for mapping out different areas in the church, for hygiene and disinfecting and we will need quite a number of volunteers to supervise any activities and to attend to disinfecting / sanitising any spaces used. Without sufficient numbers of such helpers, we will not be allowed to re-open. While these are not 'regulated activities', we need also to consider Safeguarding.
It will be some time yet, before the first Masses may be celebrated (with small numbers of people). Before that, it may be feasible to have funeral Masses (with stipulated attendance). Locally, in conjunction with Funeral Directors, it has been decided to maintain the status quo. In other words, Church funerals are still some way off.
It has been a great hardship for many of us to have had no access to our church or the Eucharist. Hopefully, we can now see that possibility on the horizon once more. We will journey towards that moment cautiously and prudently.
I would be grateful if those who feel they would be able to volunteer in some capacity could indicate this by filling out one of the forms below and returning this to me, either by email or post etc. Form A should be used by those who already have some role in the church (SVDP, Reader etc). Form B is for those who have not had any such role till now.
As you know, I celebrate Eucharist each day in the Oratory. Your intentions are remembered and your care for those most affected by the current restrictions.
We look forward to coming together once again and beginning again to experience being the wonderful parish community of St. Joseph's.
Mgr. John A. Hughes,
Application Form A for those who already volunteer in the Parish. Click below.
Application Form B for those who are new volunteers. Click below.
Application Form C for 16-18 year-old