St Benet’s Church has re-opened for public worship. We outline below the changes we have made to our services so worship in our church is Covid safe.
St Benet’s Church is open for public celebration of the Mass once more at the following service times:
Sunday 11.00 am & 7.00 pm
Tuesday 11.00 am
Wednesday 7.30 pm
Thursday 7.30 pm
Friday 11.00 am
Saturday 6.00 pm (Vigil Mass of Sunday)
For the moment, we will continue not to celebrate a weekly Mass at Ash Court each week.
Until further notice, the following must be observed upon entry to the building:
- Please wear a face covering at all times when in the building. If you don’t have one with you, we can easily provide you with one. You are permitted to remove your face covering when you receive holy communion. It should then be replaced immediately.
- Only enter through the door labelled “entrance” and leave by the door labelled “exit”.
- Please sanitise your hands straight away with the disinfectant gel provided.
- Take your place and sit down immediately. The chairs have all been spaced out at 2 metres apart from each other. If you have come as a family or household, you may sit together closer than 2 metres apart as a “bubble”.
- Please maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from any other person in the building.
- Parents are asked to keep a particular eye on their children and to keep them physically near at all times (the only exception being if they attend Sunday School). There must be no playing, running, or shouting in church.
- We estimate that we cannot have more than 40 people in the building at any one time. If the church risks becoming too full to worship in a Covid-safe way, you may be asked to come back for Mass at a later time. You are strongly advised to arrive EARLY for Mass.
- In order to help us not have more than 40 people in the church building at any one time, you may wish to consider coming to Mass on Saturday evening at 6.00 pm or Sunday evening at 7.00 pm instead of the Sunday 11.00 am Mass. These evening Masses are a lot quieter and may be better for people who are particularly anxious about the need for social distancing, or who would prefer to gather in a much smaller congregation.
- A record of who attends each liturgy will be kept in accordance with government advice for the purposes of tracing outbreaks of the virus. This information will only be shared with appropriate health authorities if needed and will be destroyed after 21 days.
The following changes will be made to the Sunday Mass:
- There will be no singing at any point by anyone including the priest. The 11.00 am Sunday Mass will have music provided by our organist in the form of improvisation at various points in the liturgy but there will be no singing on the part of the congregation.
- You are asked to take home the printed service sheet.
- Communion will be in one kind (i.e. only offered in the form of the Eucharistic bread and not the chalice). You are asked to queue for communion keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from the next person.
- There will be no refreshments at the end of Mass.
- You are asked not to congregate at the back of church at the end of Mass in order to preserve social distancing. If people wish to chat in a socially distanced way, they are asked to make their way to the parish garden on Ospringe Road for a time of fellowship in the open air after Mass.
The following changes will be made to the daily Mass:
- The daily mass will take place at the high altar and those attending are invited to sit in the chancel.
- All those entering the building are asked to sanitise their hands immediately.
- As at the Sunday Mass communion will be administered in one kind and those attending are asked to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from anyone else present in the building.
- During the week, there is no need for anyone other than the celebrant to enter the sacristy.
Arrangements for child care and Sunday School
- It will not be possible to offer the full range of children’s catechesis in the usual Sunday School format that we have traditionally provided with teaching and activities.
- A limited form of much simpler child care will be offered, however, for nursery age children and above who might otherwise become restless in church. This will involve our children being told a story in the garden of our parish hall and then having the opportunity to play outside in the garden.
- We will aim not to enter the parish hall, and instead use the garden during the summer months in front of the parish hall. If the hall does end up being used because of inclement weather, it must be carefully disinfected after use.
- Under no circumstances whatsoever will it be possible for parents to join their children in Sunday School. All children attending Sunday School must be of nursery age or above and will be left in the care of our trained Sunday School teachers.
- The total number of children we can take for Sunday School will be capped at 15. If there are more than 15 children present on a Sunday morning, the older ones will be asked to remain in church with their parents or serve in the sanctuary.
Who should and should not attend services at St Benet’s?
- Government and church advice emphasises that it is a matter of personal conscience for each person to decide whether or not to resume attendance at church. Those over the age of 70 and those in vulnerable categories will want to way up the risks in a way that is appropriate to their circumstances. We would advise people only to do what they feel comfortable with.
- One particular idea worthy of consideration is that individuals over the age of 70 who are anxious about returning to worship at services with large numbers of people may wish to think about coming to Mass either on a Saturday evening at 6.00 pm or on a Sunday evening at 7.00 pm, when there will be substantially fewer people present.
- Those who are particularly vulnerable and who have been advised to shield should continue to follow government advice about restricting their contacts and should not attend public worship at the moment.
- Those showing any of the symptoms of Covid 19 should not attend public worship and should begin a period of 14 days of self-isolation.
- We will continue to record a video fo the Sunday Mass, which will be uploaded to our parish YouTube channel for those who do not wish to leave their home. This will be the Saturday evening Vigil Mass of Sunday. It will be uploaded to our parish YouTube channel on Saturday nights and will include a homily.