Message July 18

Dear friends,


The ‘local Leicester lockdown’ is, so far as I know, still in place, though I understand that restrictions have been eased somewhat, and at present I do not know how long it will last. Part of St. Pius X parish is affected, though the Church itself is just outside the affected area. The whole of Our Lady of Victories parish is outside the lockdown limits.


The Catholic Church in Market Harborough (also dedicated to Our Lady of Victories) is open for the celebration of Mass at 6pm on Saturday evening and 9am and 11am Sunday morning. The Rosmini Centre, just North of Ratcliffe College on the A46, is also open for the celebration of Mass on Sunday at 9am. However, it is now essential to make a booking before you can attend Mass – if you would like to attend, please visit the Parish or Centre website for information about making a booking.


While restrictions remain in place, due to the pandemic, the capacity of all Catholic Churches will be much reduced, and to minimize the risk of spreading the disease, it will be necessary to pre-book attendance at Mass in any Catholic Church. I hope that both St. Pius X and Our Lady of Victories and St. Alphonsus will be open for public celebration of Mass on Saturday 1st August and Sunday 2nd August. It may be that Narborough cannot open as early as Lutterworth, because of the ‘local Leicester lockdown’. I will confirm the arrangements, including the times of Mass in a future message. I also hope that Mass can be celebrated on weekdays, probably Tuesday and Thursday (10.30am) at Our Lady of Victories & St. Alphonsus, and Wednesday and Friday at St. Pius X (9am). This also will be confirmed in a future message. Before either Church can be open for the celebration of Mass in public, we have to convince the Diocese that we have taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety of all who attend. This will involve restricting the capacity of the Churches. I hope that we will be able to accommodate 30 persons at Narborough, and perhaps 40+ in Lutterworth, but that also requires the agreement of the Diocese.


Since it will be necessary to book your place at Mass for some time to come, I will also include in a future message the arrangements for making a booking.


The ‘Sunday Obligation’ which has been suspended since the middle of March will still be suspended for the time being. Those who have been ‘shielding’ should not attempt to attend Mass, and those who are 70+ or vulnerable or caring for a vulnerable person should also think very carefully before attending, to ensure that their attendance will be safe for all concerned.  Even priests who are 70+ (which includes Father John and Father John Joe) have been told that they are not obliged to celebrate Mass in public! However, provided we keep fit and well, we both hope to do so as soon as the Churches are open for public Mass again.


Those attending Mass will need to wear a face mask or some face covering. At least two stewards must be on duty at every public celebration of Mass, and those attending will be directed to where they are to sit. It will be possible for families to sit together (you will be able to book as a family, stating how many there will be in your family group). There will be no holy water in the porch. Those entering the Church will be asked to sanitise their hands on entry (and again on exit). Those who wish to bring their offering for the collection will need to put it into the box at the entrance; there will be no collection or offertory procession during Mass. There can be no singing, though we can play music (including recorded singing), and spoken responses are permitted. There will be no altar servers, or possibly at most one. Readers must wear gloves and sanitise their hands, and we are asked that there should be only one reader at each celebration. The priest or deacon will read the gospel from a different book, and from a different place on the sanctuary. There will be no ‘bidding prayers’. Those wishing to receive Holy Communion will come to the front of the Church through the central aisle as usual, maintaining the 2 metre distance; and there is a clear line on the floor of both Churches to show where to stand to receive the host (in the hand). At the end of Mass, we cannot invite those attending to join us for refreshments. Churches must be cleaned after every public celebration.


I am very grateful to all those who have worked hard to make the two Churches ready for when we are permitted to open for public celebration again. Notices have been posted in both Churches this weekend to show where people may (and may not) sit or stand or walk. Churches have already been cleaned and benches moved as appropriate. Now risk assessments have to be completed (all 20 pages of them, for each Church), photographs taken, and the package submitted to the Diocese. Hopefully we will then be permitted to open for public celebration.


We do have two funerals already arranged, but these, in accordance with current regulations, will be ‘private’ and open only to those who have been invited, to ensure that numbers are kept below the maximum. However, I do ask you all to pray for Elaine Smith, of Lutterworth, whose Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday 28th July (Lutterworth), and for Mary Smith, of Enderby, whose Requiem Mass will be celebrated on 31st July (Narborough). Please also pray for Carolina Johnson (Lutterworth) who has just died.


Those who have volunteered as stewards or cleaners (or both) at Our Lady of Victories & St. Alphonsus have been invited to a meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 21st July in the Church. I will also be contacting those who have volunteered to act as cleaners or stewards (or both) at St. Pius X to invite them to a meeting at 7pm on Thursday 23rd July in St. Pius X Church. .


I am very grateful to those who have already volunteered, and would ask for more volunteers if possible please, so that we can consider opening for public celebration of Mass as soon as possible.


So I am again asking for more volunteers! Please let me know whether you would be willing to act as a steward or as a cleaner (or both!); and whether you are 70 or over, or under 70.   


We are looking forward to the time when we can again celebrate and receive the Eucharist together. ‘Eucharist’ means ‘thanksgiving’, and while unable to meet together in the normal manner, it is important that we remember that we still have so much to thank God for. Having made our thanksgiving, we commit ourselves again to doing Our Lord’s work in the world, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Here is a very early prayer of thanksgiving:


“We give you thanks, holy Father, for your holy name which you have made to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to us. Through Jesus, your servant, to you be glory for ever. You are the mighty ruler of all, who has created all for your name’s sake, and you have given food and drink to human beings for their enjoyment, so that they might give thanks to you. But to us, from your generosity, you have given spiritual food and drink, and life eternal, through your servant. Above all things, we give thanks to you because you are mighty. To you be glory for ever. Remember, Lord, your Church, deliver her from evil, make her complete in your love, and gather her from the four winds into your kingdom you have prepared for her, for yours is the power and the glory for ever.” (The Teaching of the Apostles 10)


This week I will celebrate Mass at approximately 9am each day for the following intentions:


Sunday Kitty Corr RIP; Monday Intentions of B Tomlinson; Tuesday the people of the parish (Mass in time of pandemic); Wednesday Sick relatives and friends of Mr & Mrs Abbotton; Thursday Monsignor Anthony Stark RIP; Friday Mary Hadley RIP; Saturday Canon Michael Hazell RIP; next Sunday Doug and Patricia Partridge RIP.


Please pray for Michael Maloney, Teresa Maugham, Debbie Bourke, Sheila Knight, Elizabeth Fullerton, Mary Dunne, Ranjit Mann, Juanita Zaman, (all parishioners or relatives of parishioners), and Father Michael Horrax (retired priest of this Diocese) who are seriously ill; and for Carolina Johnson, Elaine Smith, Mary Smith, Sister Philippa, Sister Rita Winn, Kathleen Pearcey, Anne Kemp, Sheila Dunn, Joan Lamyman, Sister Breege Leddy, Steven Moger, Anne Foong, Michael Ginnerty, and all who have died recently. Please let me know of any others who have died, or anyone who is ill and wishes to ask for prayers, so that I can add them to the list.


Recycling Textiles: If any of you are clearing our wardrobes and chests of drawers, or will be doing so at the end of the summer, remember that the parishes can earn money by recycling textiles. The firm we use will take clean clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, sheets and pillowcases, and curtains; but not duvets, pillows, or cushions. Any such items (bagged of course) can be left on the doorstep of the presbytery, 52 Leicester Road Narborough, for us to recycle. We have been paid 30p per kilogram.


Contributions to the parish funds: As I mentioned last week, I have received a directive from the diocese that all parishioners must be encouraged to make their contribution to the Church collection by standing order or electronic means if possible. I can provide the parish Bank details to anyone who would like to donate in that manner – many of you already do so (and I am very grateful indeed). I can provide standing order mandates for anyone who wishes – please just ask. As mentioned above, we will not be allowed to take the collection in the normal manner, but there will be a box at the door for contributions ‘on the day’. The collection then has to be bagged up securely for 72 hours before being counted, and counters have to wear masks and gloves.


I am still thinking of you all and looking forward to meeting you again in person. I pray for you, and ask that you pray for me and for all members of our two communities. I hope you are all keeping well and virus free, and keeping as active as possible and in good spirits. If there is any way that I can help, please do let me know.


I am very grateful to all of you who have been distributing my thoughts and messages to those who may not have been receiving them directly. Do please think of those members of our community who may not be ‘computer-savvy’ or do not have email, or perhaps may not have given me their email address. You are welcome to share these thoughts with anyone else who you feel may benefit from them or would like to read them. Please also continue to pass on to me any messages from them – including email addresses. I would very much like to reach as many members of our communities as possible, and if my thoughts are of any benefit to those who are not in our community, I would be delighted.


With best wishes to you all, and assuring you all of my prayers.

Father John