In a recent email to priests of the Archdiocese, the Archbishop has written the following:-
“Although I have circulated the recent Government advice on the opening of churches, I want to emphasise that the final decision in this regard is yours. Only you know your people, their age profile and the risks they are likely to be exposed to and present to others. You have to consider your volunteers and stewards. You also have yourself to consider and I would not want you to expose yourself unnecessarily to infection from the virus.”
So, after speaking to a number of health professionals, priests in the Archdiocese, nurses and NHS staff, all the priests of the Deanery have decided to cease the celebration of public worship and private prayer in all the churches in the area. We will review our position as and hopefully when the situation is a little better. There are several reasons for this:
- The number of cases in the NW is still very much on the increase.
- The new strain of the virus is more virulent than in the past.
- A good number of people who attend Mass are over 70 and are therefore in the vulnerable category – even though there is no obligation, attending Mass is a further risk.
- It is important to ensure the safety of our stewards. Our thanks go to them for all the work they have done in the past few months. Without them we would not have been able to open up any of our churches again.
- Even though our churches have been Covid secure it is still a gathering of people for 30 minutes which increases the risk of spreading the virus.
The overall message from the Government and health officials is to STAY AT HOME. Please do so, stay safe, and please God we will be able to open up our churches very soon to welcome you back. As we see the vaccine distributed, closing our churches now is a small price to pay to welcome back a time when we can feel safe everywhere, especially when we gather to pray together one day.