Fr Mark and Prebendary David Wright from St Peter's Anglican Church volunteering at the Lateral Flow Testing Centre that Fr Craig Fullard has set up in his parish club at St Joseph's in Willenhall. We still need more volunteers if you are able to give a few hours a week of your time. More details can be found on our parish bulletin.
The Prime Minister has announced further widespread restrictions in England beginning on Thursday 5 November. The Government have published their New National Restrictions Guidance on their website. Whilst there was no formal announcement on Places of Worship by the Prime Minister, there is clear guidance on this website that places of worship will be required to end all acts of collective worship, except for funeral ceremonies. In response the following statement is issued by the President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference.
"The announcement of a new ‘national lockdown’ in England will, we know, bring hardship, distress and suffering to many. We must hope and pray that this is an effective strategy against a growing pandemic which has tragically taken so many lives already and threatens so many more.
Faith communities have played a vital role in sustaining personal, spiritual and mental health and encouraging vital charitable activities, which support hundreds of thousands of people in all sections of the community, especially the most vulnerable. That critical service towards the common good of all is created and sustained by communal worship and prayer. Part of this selfless giving has been a strong ethic of responsibility in the way in which we have reopened our churches so that essential worship has been enabled. Our communities have done a great deal to make our churches safe places in which all have been able to gather in supervised and disciplined ways.
It is thus a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship. Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the Government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus. We ask the Government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.
To counter the virus we will, as a society, need to make sustained sacrifices for months to come. In requiring this sacrifice, the Government has a profound responsibility to show why it has taken particular decisions. Not doing so risks eroding the unity we need as we enter a most difficult period for our country.
The Prime Minister has stated that the draft legislation will be placed before Parliament on Monday 2 November. Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to discuss the issues and vote on the proposed national restrictions. In this short timeframe, questions can be raised with our elected Members of Parliament regarding the cessation of public common worship. They are in a position to require the Government to publish the data that drives the decision to cease public worship under these restrictions."
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Malcolm McMahon OP
The Archbishop of Birmingham has asked, if we are able to do so, that we consider emailing our MPs. If you attend Mass at SS Peter and Paul or St Michael, the MP to contact is Stuart Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org). For St Bernadette, please contact Gavin Williamson (email@example.com)
The bulletin is now ready to download on the Mass Times and Bulletin page. You will notice the item about Track and Trace. We have created a page on our website explaining how to use the new NHS Track and Trace App for your Smart Phone. To access this page, click the button below.
City of Wolverhampton Council is seeking feedback from residents on their experiences of the Coronavirus lockdown through their short ‘Life in Lockdown’ survey. You can take the survey by clicking the button below.
The Archbishops of England have issued an important briefing about the celebration of Mass which will be able to begin soon. Please read the announcement by clicking the button below.
You will read that a church cannot open for Mass unless it has a strong team of stewards and cleaners.
We have begun a team at St Michael's but this was just for opening twice a week. If it is to open for more days of the week, we will need a bigger team. SS Peter & Paul and St Bernadette's will also need teams of stewards and cleaners who are under 70 before we are able to celebrate Mass in these churches.
If you are able to volunteer, please let Fr Mark know as soon as possible. Please note that none of our churches will be able to open for the celebration of Mass unless we can satisfy the requirements to keep them safe.
As you may be aware, the Catholic Church is represented at various international organisations through the Holy See's Diplomatic Missions. Last month, world leaders and their representatives met together virtually for the 73rd World Health Assembly. As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic was discussed extensively.
His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, delivered a statement outlining the global response of the Catholic Church to the pandemic. Quoting Pope Francis, he urged Member States to ensure that "the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and the peripheries of every part of the world" are not abandoned.
You can read the statement by clicking the button below.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke to presenter Justin Webb on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on the 14th of May about how Catholic Churches can be safely re-opened for private prayer as the UK government eases its lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. You can listen to the interview using the radio player below.
The Holy Father invites us all to participate in an historical event this Thursday 14th May'
Last year, during a Global Conference in Abu Dhabi, the Holy Father and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. One of the consequences of this agreement was to set up The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. This day of prayer has been proposed by this committee, inviting everyone, regardless of religion to participate. This is the first time in history that all religions are being brought together in prayer and fasting.
There are no set time or set prayers for the day as this will be determined by each of the religions.
Here are a few possible suggestions to choose from, however:
After the online Mass there will be a special prayer marking the day.
Given the news from the Prime Minister this evening (Sunday 10th May) we will await news from the Bishops' Conference to see if this has any implications on the churches, but clearly this will not be for a while yet!
The sisters, and I have been going through the parish database and ringing people to see if they are doing all right. We have discovered a major problem, however, many of the entries are incorrect. This may have happened because of difficulties in reading handwriting when the entries were made into the computer or possibly that some entries which were copied from previous address books are simply out of date.
If you are aware of any parishioner who has not been rung yet, therefore, please could you pass on their details to us so that we can make contact and also update the parish database.
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, launched its coronavirus emergency appeal on 30 April. Coronavirus (Covid-19) has now spread worldwide, with confirmed cases in many countries where CAFOD works. The effects of coronavirus on developing countries are likely to be devastating. Many countries have very weak healthcare systems and will not be able to cope. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water, possibly living with other diseases, will be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. It is not just a public health emergency. Many of the world’s most vulnerable people will lose their jobs and be unable to support their families. The poorest and most marginalised communities, working hard to transform their lives, will be pushed further into poverty. CAFOD is adapting its programmes to help manage the risk of coronavirus in communities and working with local Church aid agencies on the frontline of this crisis. They are already working to get food to where it is needed most; to improve hygiene, handwashing and sanitation in communities and households; producing radio messages, posters and leaflets in local languages on risks and prevention; and training community volunteers to carry out awareness campaigns. In order to continue protecting and improving the lives of those in poor communities, your prayers and gifts are needed now more than ever. While we are not able to hold collections in our church, you can donate at cafod.org.uk/coronavirusappeal.
Cafod are also providing some great resources for children during the week and also for children's liturgy on Sundays. They can be accessed below.
Catholic Social Teaching is often described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ for Catholics. At this time when communities are coming together to act in solidarity to battle the spread of COVID-19, Catholic Social Teaching would seem more relevant than ever.
Churches are closed, friends are separated, the elderly and vulnerable are self-isolating - some away from their families - and the rest of us are on lockdown to protect the herculean efforts of the NHS as the virus reaches its peak in the UK.
Professor Jim McManus is Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire and has been helping guide the Catholic Church's response to COVID-19. He talks to us about the vital guiding principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and upholding the common good to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"We often neglect what's called 'horizontal subsidiarity' - the skills of good citizenship. The skills we learn of participating, of helping one another out, of good behaviour, of pro-social behaviour. This is the time when these networks of skills and goodwill are most needed.
"The 'soft skills' we need as a society are the things we need to practice. So 'horizontal subsidiarity' absolutely comes in. It is derived, theologically, from a duty we owe one another in justice - as fellow creatures - and we should follow that."
You can listen to the podcast by using the 'soundcloud' player above.
The UK Government has released a series of videos giving general advice to the public. You can watch these by clicking on each one below. To see these videos in other languages, click the button at the bottom of this post.
Spot the Signs
Pope Francis sends this video message to Christians around the world as we prepare to celebrate Holy Week in an unusual manner due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. He prays especially for those suffering and for all the families whose lives have been upset in this difficult time.
I'm sure that like me, you are beginning to realise the full impact of the social restrictions that have been implemented to curb the advance of the virus. Here in the parish office at SS Peter & Paul we have worked on providing a framework for communication through this website but obviously, it is only any use for someone who has access to the internet. As I said at Masses in the last two weeks before we had to close the churches, it is therefore essential that we use the telephone to check up on each other. If everyone is phoning a couple of people each, then it is like a tree growing out across the parish. I have already heard of great initiatives with people using whatsapp groups and a lovely story of someone holding their telephone to the computer during Mass online so that another parishioner could hear it. Through simple gestures like this, we can keep everyone connected to the parish family.
If anyone has other ideas of helping keep the lines of communication open, please let me know.
Keeping you all in my prayers, and especially at daily Mass,
The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, has asked us to share the following statement with our local communities:
"Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday introduced significant social restrictions, which touch on everyone’s lives across the West Midlands. These are unprecedented in peacetime and I know will be hard on you and your families.
I want to assure you that my officers and staff will continue to work every hour of every day to keep you safe. We will protect you. That is our duty and that is my promise to you.
But this is my ask of you. I urge the people of the West Midlands to follow the new instructions. They are essential and it will save lives. Nothing is more important.
Officers and PCSOs will be visible in our communities and I have asked them all to engage positively but safely with anyone we suspect is in breach of the new regulations. Officers will explain what the new restrictions are and what we expect of everyone.
If we have to talk to you we will:
If people do not listen to our advice then we will move to enforcement.
We are already receiving many calls on potential breaches of these arrangements. People can advise us if there are large scale breaches with large numbers of people congregating via webchat or 101. We would ask you to trust that we will target the most problematic behaviour.
This will only work if people make sensible choices and observe what they are being told.
You can keep in touch with West Midlands Police by following @WMPolice on Twitter, on Facebook as well as signing up for community messaging where you live via WMNow.
The country is facing a challenging period when helping each other and being good neighbours and friends has never been so vital. As Chief Constable I know our communities will rise to the challenge and we will all work together to prevent the spread of the virus."
Please pray for all those who work in the emergency services at this difficult time.
Chaplain to West Midlands Police
In his Address to the Nation the Prime Minister outlined the necessary steps that we must now take to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. The Government has mandated the ‘closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.’
This means that, until further notice, and with immediate effect, all of our churches must now close their doors to the public. This policy must be implemented without exception. This is an essential component of our contribution to fighting the Coronavirus and living out the Lord Jesus’ commandment to ‘love our neighbour.’ (Mk 12:31).
The Prime Minster also stated that all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals, must cease.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, the opportunities for us to pray together using technology becomes even more important. There are plenty of resources on our website to help us do this. One example is the daily Mass which is available online. Another is praying at home at specified times of the week, knowing that many others are doing the same. For example:
Keeping you all in my prayers,
There is a great national initiative of prayer taking place this evening at 7pm. I will be praying Evening Prayer of the Church at this time. You can say the same prayers at home by going to the Universalis page. Please see the statement below for more details about the initiative:
This Mothering Sunday, 22 March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.
At 7 p.m. this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation. We would pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the Covid-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
There are already stories being told of wonderful acts of kindness across neighbourhoods. Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour. We may not be able to touch physically, but we can make connections in so many other ways.
In the meantime, do please attend to all the government health advice that will be issued, and look out for resources from your specific church governing bodies. At least for those of us in the global North, we do seem to be in unusual times, and wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.
We note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss.
In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope.
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5.7
Presidents of Churches Together in England:
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Archbishop Angaelos of London, CTE President for the Orthodox Churches
Pastor Agu Irukwu, CTE Pentecostal President
The Bishops' Conference has released an excellent video featuring Professor Jim McManus who's Hertfordshire County Council's Director of Public Health and a key contributor to the Catholic Church's Healthcare Reference Group.
Following the suspension of public acts of worship, Jim gives an update and offers some dos and don'ts when it comes to self-isolation and social distancing. He talks about how we can all stay safe and how when we protect ourselves, we protect others - particularly the most vulnerable and those who are not in a position to work from home.
As you can see from today's statement from the Bishops of England and Wales (click here), sadly there will be no more public celebrations of the Mass from Friday evening. We have already cancelled Mass tomorrow at St Michael's but the Funeral Mass on Friday 20th for Gabriel Langan RIP will be going ahead as planned.
All other gatherings such as choir practice, youth clubs, parish council meetings, children's catechesis, children's First Reconciliation and so on will also be cancelled and rearranged at a later date.
The Churches will be open, however, for individual personal prayer. We will be looking into organising times when they will be open and a schedule will be published on the bulletin. The bulletin will still be printed this weekend so that copies can be taken to people who do not have access to the internet.
I will be celebrating Mass each day for you all. We are in the process of sorting out live streaming so that you will be able to participate in Mass online. The schedule for these Masses will be put on the bulletin this weekend.
We also hope to live stream Adoration and Vespers on Sunday afternoons.
Please pass on this information to any friends you know who have no access to the internet.
Let us pray for one another in this difficult time.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the 'serious reason' why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
"The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want."
May God bless us all.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales has said:
“Following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday and advice from public health professionals, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are being consulted on the issues regarding public worship.
"A clear statement of the way forward will be issued tomorrow morning following the consultation and the decisions made will be by the five Archbishops.”
Following discussions at a special deanery meeting this afternoon, it has been decided that we should cancel the meetings for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on March the 23rd and March 28th. The Reconciliation Services in April have also been cancelled. We will be issuing further guidelines tomorrow.
Please be aware of the most recent guidelines listed in the previous update (10.03.20).
Things to Remember
How do we respond with faith to this situation?
Online Masses and Prayer Resources
For those unable to attend church, you can watch and listen to Mass using the button below or on the Home page of our website. Alternatively you can use the "prayer resources" button to pray at the time you would normally attend.
As there have been local cases of infection, the Diocese has asked that we move to Stage 2 of the Bishops' Conference Guidelines regarding the Coronavirus. So from today we will take the following precautions:
Please click "Read More" to see some useful information videos.
This page page displays the latest announcements. For regular weekly news, please ensure you also read the Parish Bulletin, which is available on the Home page. For previous versions of the Bulletin, click here.