Hello again! (on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.)
It is amazing to think that since ‘lock-down’ began at the end of March, we have missed EIGHTEEN Sundays of celebrating Mass together - not to mention the Sacred Triduum/Easter Ceremonies, the whole of Eastertide, along with the Solemnities of Pentecost, ‘Corpus Christi’ and the Holy Trinity.
We had great hopes of making some kind of a fresh start next weekend, BUT this cannot be, due to circumstances beyond our control - as you will read below.
I have desperately disappointing news to begin with this week: we are UNABLE to go ahead with our plans to begin limited-numbers, public, Sunday Mass at both St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s on 16th August, as I proposed last week.
All the paperwork has been completed for both churches ; all necessary safe-guarding measures have been bought and installed ; permissions from Archbishop’s House for both churches to begin public worship , with limited numbers of people have been obtained ; BUT , we are unable , at this time of the year , with so many people on holiday , to raise the required quota of Stewards who must be in place at every public Mass that is celebrated.
Our problem is that the Guidelines stipulate that volunteer Stewards must be aged 18 to 70 years. At the same time, they must be free from any underlying health condition. Furthermore, they must not be living with or caring for another person who is ‘shielding’ on account of a health issue and, last of all, the proposed Steward must not be pregnant.
With these factors taken into consideration, we are very short on the ground with regard to Parish Stewards at this time in August 2020.
I know that Cardiff Parishes are helping one another out by ‘sharing’ Stewards, and they are in the fortunate position to have Parishes in close proximity, which makes this possible. In our case, however, our two neighbouring Parishes in Newport and Monmouth are some 18 miles away in either direction - which makes ‘sharing’ impractical.
A Priest called to the Presbytery during the week for a chat and I asked him how his Parish was managing with recruitment of Stewards. He replied that if it were not for people in the over-70 years bracket, they could not celebrate public Mass. He gave these good people the opportunity to make their own minds up and assume any responsibility for their actions. The Parish in question is located in England.
I was pondering for a while the feasibility of offering the same ‘dispensation’ in our Parishes , but then I recalled an incident that occurred during the complete closure of our churches to Parishioners in March , April , May , June and July , when I was reported to Archbishop’s House for an ALLEGED infraction of the protocols and received a telephone call from the Archbishop who enquired about the matter. In the light of this incident, you may well appreciate that I am loathe to go through any possible repeat by knowingly breaking the rules.
More than that, all these Guidelines are mandated for our personal and collective safety, so it is only right that we follow them.
Quite as a matter of chance, I am presently reading a Vatican document issued by the Congregation of the Clergy, entitled ‘The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community: in the Service of the Evangelising Mission of the Church.’ Quite a mouthful, don’t you think? The Introduction states, “Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves……….in a spirit of communion and collaboration, of encounter and closeness……. for the proclamation of the Gospel.”
Wouldn’t you agree that enfolded in this ‘official language’, the practical aspects of being ‘Good Stewards’ of the Gospel are very much enshrined - none more so than caring for the common good of our Families, Friends, Parishioners, Neighbours and the Society in which we live? The Guidelines concerning Covid 19 are to be seen in this light.
So, our ‘Covid Co-ordinating Group’ is asking for Parishioners to volunteer as Stewards - bearing in mind the restrictions imposed upon us in the Guidelines.
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Our Vision – ‘To develop the faith of our Parish Community to meet the Spiritual, Social and the Moral challenges facing us in the modern World’
(A Parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff - Registered Charity No. 242380)
St. Mary's Presbytery
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