It was just a week last Sunday morning that Cardinal Vincent Nicols, following the Government’s announcement the previous evening sanctioning the re-opening of Churches for private prayer from Monday 15 June 2020, welcomed the news & gave us permission to begin a series of consultations & due process which would allow the re-opening of some Churches depending on local conditions. Since then, through our Outreach of last weekend, & my emails to each of you of 8 June 2020, informing you of progress thus far, & asking if you would like to come for private prayer if we were to gain permissions to re-open, & if you some of you would be willing to be a minster of welcome on the day, & my subsequent email of last Monday 15 June 2020 giving you the good news of our private prayer time beginning this Friday, the feast of the Sacred Heart, between 2pm & 4pm, I would like on your behalf to offer my deep gratitude to the planning group, Caroline Dollard, Karen Harrington [our Monastery Infirmary Matron] Tracey Swiers, Teresa Briggs & Dominic Carter, & to our two ministers of welcome, Marie Willis & Maureen Moore for all their work in preparing for this special moment in the life of the Parish, Our Lady & St Benedict’s & Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling, as we have the blessing of sharing prayer again together in Our Lady & St Benedict’s.
Bishop Terence made it clear from the outset there would be some Churches authorised for re-opening but not all, & with the comprehensive & complex work necessary to ensure that those who come & our ministers of welcome are kept as safe as possible, with the compilation of a detailed Risk Assessment, which had to be approved by the Bishop, the Abbot’s Council & the Abbey Trustees, & with numbers expressing an interest in coming for private prayer from across the Parish being in single figures, we asked for permission to re-open just Our Lady & St Benedict’s Ampleforth. My email of last Monday details the good practice we will need to ensure during visits to Church, & my hope is that those coming will fully understand the measures & will show full cooperation with the gentle but firm guidance explained by the ministers of welcome. We hope very much, that if it all goes smoothly & safely, we can open again each Friday for the foreseeable future, until further lifting of restrictions are announced by the Bishop. I would want again to express my appreciation to those who have worked hard diligently & cheerfully on your behalf on a project not seen before in the history of our Parish. Their work will form a fine template for the time we are able to re-open the Church for the celebration of Mass, when a similar process of preparation, documentation & authorisation will have to be implemented. We are “ahead of the game” in due process & best practice, & I am enormously reassured on your behalf that it is as safe a provision as we can offer you. Sadly & understandably, we need to repeat that our advice, in full compliance with guidance from the Bishop to those over 70yrs of age, & those with underlying health problems, is to discourage those in one or both categories from coming to Church for the foreseeable future, until such time as the current advice is amended. I am sure that those who are able to come will pray especially for those of you who are discouraged, & indeed those many more who have chosen not to return for the time being for various reasons.
I mentioned in last weekend’s Outreach my concern over “a crippling fall in income in the accounts up to 30 April 2020 which shows a loss of £6,800 “with the likelihood of the deficit increasing month on month, & asking if you were able to help us in trying to stabilise our financial situation, particularly in the immediate term, when we are feeling the loss of weekly plate income of over £100 per weekend. I am deeply grateful to two parishioners so far who have made welcome donations to us in our financial crisis.
St Benedict’s RC Primary School continues its apostolate with some days up to 12 children in School this week, working in separate year group bubbles, & with the rest full engaged in home-learning. We are grateful to Mr Eddy & the staff for such fine front line working, & for the Governors who will meet on line for a Full Governing Body meeting next Wednesday evening. Our children & their academic relational & spiritual futures are in good hands & warm hearts, the essence of an Outstanding Catholic School, which indeed ours is..do be assured by me & “do not be afraid “ as our gospel tells us this weekend, to tell others in our wider locality that we have a first rate Catholic School open for work prayer & full family participation.
Could I ask you please to pray specially for Kitty Greenley, who celebrates her 99th birthday this Sunday. She remains well & content, if a little confused at times. She is fondly remembered by the whole Village for her unstinting service particularly to the elderly & housebound, for whom she did errands & relayed messages. We would normally have a card at the back of Church & invite each of you to sign it. It would be lovely if you would send her a card & assure her of your prayers. Southwoods Nursing Home. 28, Thirsk Road, Northallerton DL6 IPH
Do listen out of for our Church bell at 10am on Sunday, ringing out through the Village our unity as the Body of Christ this weekend, & in unity of thought love & prayer each Sunday with Rev Catherine Reid & our brothers & sisters at St Hilda’s & at Holy Cross in Gilling. This Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, is a Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, on which Pope Francis asks us priests to reflect on five aspects of our heart-centred ministry; Gratitude [a grateful heart]; Mercy [a merciful heart]; Compassion [a compassionate heart]; Vigilance [a watchful heart]; Courage [a courageous heart]. Please pray for me & my fellow priests of our Diocese & of our Community, particularly those you know, perhaps specially Fr Matthew, who remains safe & well cared for in the Monastery Infirmary as his dementia increases.
Some significant feasts this coming week:
On Monday, the feast of two of the finest English Saints, St John Fisher & St Thomas More, a day of prayer for those who suffer persecution oppression & denial of human rights, so fitting for these anxious times of racial tension & social unrest. Wednesday is the feast of St John the Baptist, a role model & patron for all of us in our calling to be “preparers of the way” for Our Lord’s coming, “bridge-builders”, & “go-betweens”. I wonder in which of the three do you major in at present? & on Saturday, the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Patroness of our Diocese, a day to remember specially please Bishop Terence Patrick & all who work & pray with him in leading us forward in our faith.