Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and updates
and liturgy support for Adults and children

Last  Updated: 4th July 2020

Dear friends and parishioners of St Thomas More,
Let us all pray for each other, for our medical teams, Government Ministers and their advisers.
I pray particularly that you will keep well, safe and happy.
With every blessing.
Fr Danny

On this page, we will publish information, links and resources likely to be of particular interest to the Knebworth Catholic community. We will be providing regular updates, so please visit often and share this page with your friends in the parish.

Accessing live stream Masses 

https://rcdow.org.uk/news/how-to-participate-in-mass-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

(This page on the Diocese website will be updated  regularly as more live streaming becomes available.)

You can find Westminster Cathedral's live stream here.

 

 

Celebration of Mass Opening Times from Saturday 4th July:

Sunday - Mass at 8.00am & 10.00am
Monday - Mass at 7.15pm

Tuesday - Mass at 9.30am

Wednesday - Celebration of the Word and Holy Communion at 9.30am
Thursday - Celebration of the Word and Holy Communion at 9.30am

Friday - Mass at 9.30am

Saturday - Mass at 10.00am & 6.00pm

If you are thinking of attending Mass, please note:

  • You must not enter the church, if you, or a member of your household, have displayed any of the symptoms related to COVID 19.

  • It is strongly advised that you do not enter if you fall within an ‘at risk’ group (over 70, asthmatic or have underlying medical conditions).

When you come to church, please:

  • On arriving, cleanse your hands with the sanitiser provided.

  • When you arrive in the church you will be invited to enter the benches via the central aisle.

  • Maintain social distancing

  • No physical contact with others - no handshakes or hugs!

  • Follow the ‘one way’ system already in use.

  • Use sanitising wipes to clean your prayer space.

  • Please take all reading material and belongings away with you.

  • As you leave, cleanse your hands with the sanitiser provided at the exit.

All Catholics continue to be dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Mass, for the time being. With social distancing in place, the numbers attending Mass will be limited. Wearing of face coverings / masks will be compulsory, and that will mean we can operate the 1 metre distance between people rather than 2 metre. There will not be Mass-books or printed newsletters. Give yourselves time to park and prepare to enter the church - arrive EARLY! Toilets will not be available in the hall.

The structure of the Mass will be simplified so that people are not in an enclosed place for longer than necessary: Congregational singing is not permitted. No altar servers. Gloria and the Creed will be omitted. No Second Reading or Prayers of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers). No Offertory procession or collection. If you wish to bring your offerings please drop them into the basket inside the church. No Sign of Peace. Communion will only be the Body of Christ. There is no chalice with the Precious blood for the congregation. The Priest will elevate the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar saying ‘The Body of Christ’ and ‘The Blood of Christ’ to which we all say ‘Amen’. After the Blessing and Dismissal, stewards will guide people from their benches to the front of the sanctuary, for communion - keeping distance at all times. Those who wish to receive Holy Communion may only receive in the hand with no words uttered by priest or communicant and then you will leave the church promptly - please exit via the choir / lady chapel side door. Even those not receiving Holy Communion must follow this flow. Any chats you may wish to have with fellow parishioners should be outside of the church and maintaining social distance. 

The Cardinal has recorded a video of a pastoral message in preparation for resuming public liturgies. In it, he explains the steps that need to be taken and the changes to be made in order to resume public liturgies. Click here to see it

We look forward very much to welcoming you all back to St Thomas More Church.

24/06/2020 - A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England

Read the letter from the Metropolitan Archbishops which sets the tone and parameters of the return to Mass across England. Whilst there is a deep thirst to return to the central mysteries of our faith celebrated in the Mass, it is important that we understand that we are not returning to how things were before lockdown and that we are still living with the pandemic. It is important to reaffirm that the obligation to attend Sunday mass remains suspended.

As a parish we are planning how to begin our return to celebrating Mass together while still protecting those at higher risk, reducing the risk of cross infection by using social distancing measures and continuing to reach out with compassion to those who are unable come to the Church. Updates on plans will be published on the website.

23/06/2020

As you will have heard by now, the government has announced today that, from 4th July, we can resume our public liturgies. We welcome this good news that will allow us to gather once more with parishioners to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments.

We await further guidance from the government and from the Bishops’ Conference, which will be distributed as soon as it is available.

Below you will find the Cardinal’s statement about this welcome news.

I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister earlier today, that places of worship are now able to resume collective acts of worship from 4 July. This is welcome news for members of all religions in England. I thank all who have worked hard to bring this about, not least my fellow religious leaders.

As Catholics we now look forward to being able to celebrate Mass together again from 4 July. We have waited with patience and longing for this moment, understanding the importance of protecting the health of people in our society. Now we are full of anticipation that we will be able again to take part together in the Eucharist, which lies at the centre of our faith.

It is important that we continue to abide by the guidance, given by the Government, on appropriate social distancing and the other measures to avoid all unnecessary risk. Our own detailed guidance will be distributed around dioceses and parishes so everyone can be confident that they may come to Mass securely and understand the part they are to play in protecting each other from any remaining risk of infection.

The past few months have been a time of fashioning new patterns of prayer, new ways of exploring and enriching our faith and vigorous ways of reaching out to those in need. We can build on these, forgetting nothing of the graces we have been given. Yet now, with the experience of opening our churches for individual prayer already gained, this return to the more normal patterns of worship will be of great importance to all Catholics.

This time of our ‘Eucharistic fast’ has made our hearts grow in longing for that moment when we can come together and receive again the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. That moment is now very near and for that we thank God.

Our church will re-open for private prayer on Monday 15th June.

St Thomas More Church opening times: 

11am-1pm Weekdays

11am-1pm Saturday

11am-1pm Sunday

Social distancing must be observed at all times in and around the church including the car park. There will be a one-way system in the church to accommodate entry and exit. As you enter the church you can walk up the main aisle and across the front of the sanctuary. Anti-bacterial gel will be provided at the entrance/exit from the church. Every other pew is blocked off to ensure SDR. You may light candles, but please do not touch any of the statues. You will be able to visits the Martyrs Chapel and the Lady Chapel. Toilet facilities will not be available and the bookshop will remain closed. We have provided a basket for donations to the church I would suggest anything substantial would be better to be put through the door of the presbytery. If you are unwell, a vulnerable person, shielding, or at risk because of your age, it is worth considering whether it would be the right thing to come to church. Thank you for your prayers and your patience.

Click here to access opening times for the other parishes in the Stevenage Denary.

 

On Sunday 14th June, the Sunday Worship Programme, which airs at 8.10am on BBC Radio 4, will broadcast Mass celebrated by the Cardinal in Westminster Cathedral. It is the Feast of Corpus Christi.This news should be particularly welcome with parishioners and family and friends who do not have access to the internet and are thus unable to watch livestreamed Masses.

08/06/2020 - Reopening the church for private prayer: Can you help?

The church will re-open for private prayer on Monday 15th June. We are working on a plan to ensure the church will reopen safely for all users. Fortunately we have been planning behind the scenes for this day and considerable thought has gone into it. Nearer to that time we will explain what will be provided to make it a safe place to pray in and that we are following Government advice and guidelines. This will require a conscious effort from all of us to follow health and safety regulations, and in particular social distancing.More detail will be given soon but in the meantime we will need to plan for volunteers to help. We will need stewards during the time the church is open for private prayer and we will need people to help clean the church once it is closed. Volunteers must be aged over 18 and under 70 and have no underlying relevant or serious health issues. Briefings will be given in advance and protective clothing provided where necessary. We would make sure that neither of these tasks are too onerous. Please let Fr Danny know if you would be willing to help in any way. Thank you to those who have volunteered already.

07/06/2020 - Churches to re-open for individual prayer

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has welcomed the decision that Catholic churches, that can safely do so, will re-open for individual prayer on 15 June.  This decision follows discussions between the government and representatives of major faiths through the Places of Worship Taskforce which the Communities Secretary has chaired. There is no change to the rules regarding group worship. 

“This is a first, measured step in restoring the more normal practice of our faith and will be welcomed by so many, who have waited with great patience since 23rd March when our churches were closed, by government decision, as part of the fight against this pandemic. I thank everyone for that patience. It is important that every care is taken to ensure that the guidance given for this limited opening is fully observed, not least by those entering our churches. Our preparation is taking place with thoroughness. Visiting a church for individual prayer, benefiting from the sacredness of that space, can be done safely and confidently.”  - Cardinal Vincent Nichols

You can read more about his statement here on the Diocese of Westminster news page.

07/06/2020 - A Message from Fr Danny (Solemnity of The Holy Trinity)

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

Today the church throughout the world is celebrating the Solemnity of The Holy Trinity.

I share with you the words of the Preface for this feast:

For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are the one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,

but in a Trinity of one substance.

For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son

and of the Holy Spirit,

so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person.

their unity in substance,

and their equality in majesty.

We are busy making plans and thinking about the practical issues we will need to take into account for the opening of our churches, initially just for private prayer.  In the meantime the livestreaming of Masses is very helpful.  As on previous Sundays I recommend the following:

10.00am  Mass from Glenstal Abbey

10.30am   Mass from Westminster Cathedral

11.00am   Angelus Message from Pope Francis

Wishing you every blessing on this important Feast.

Fr Danny 

03/06/2020 - Bishops stand in solidarity with US sisters and brothers as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd

“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the USA as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd. As the US Bishops made clear: “we cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.”

“Systemic racism is embedded in our own society. The disproportionate harm suffered by BAME people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted profound inequalities, marginalisation and injustice here in the UK. The peaceful Black Lives Matter protests taking place in our towns and cities this week reflect the understandable anger that so many people feel about this.

“As Catholics we recognise that racism is an evil which must be opposed; we all have a responsibility for actively promoting racial justice. Whenever we ignore racism or dismiss BAME people’s experience of it, we are complicit in violations of human dignity. We pray for God’s help to overcome racism in all its forms and that we might protect everyone who suffers its consequences. We are all made in God’s image.”

Bishop Declan Lang
Lead Bishop for International Affairs

Bishop Paul McAleenan
Lead Bishop for Racial Justice

June is the month of the Sacred Heart and thanks to the generosity of one parishioner there are some beautiful flowers in front of our statue.  Fr Danny

 

31/05/2020 - A Message from Fr Danny on Pentecost Sunday

Solemnity of Pentecost

In our own lives the Holy Spirit is already active, from the day we were born. God’s Spirit already moves in us as we take our first steps and progress through life. The Spirit of divine love is in us always. We just have to recognise that spirit and submit to it. God can then continue His work in us and transform us to live in the image of Christ.

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

Following the call of Pope Francis for families to pray the Rosary together during the month of May, a Rosary Rally has been organised inviting the faithful across England, Wales and Scotland to pray the Rosary on Pentecost Sunday from 9am to 9pm.

The faithful in the Diocese of Westminster are invited to pray the Rosary from 5pm to 6pm on this day, alone, as a family, or as a group connecting virtually.

A lovely prayer for this Pentecost Sunday:

For the Spirit of Peace
that calms our mind
and stills our life,

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Love
that touches hearts
and reaches out,

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Joy
that lifts our soul
and gives us faith

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Power,
that gift of grace
for this your church,

we give you thanks.

There will be many beautiful Masses to follow today:

Usually at about 9.00am our time, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St Peter's. EWTN will cover this in English

10.00am Glenstal Abbey in Co. Limerick

10.30 Westminster Cathedral with Cardinal Vincent Nichols

11.00 The Pope's Regina Caeli message - with EWTN

6.00pm  Vespers from Glenstal (I watched the 1st Vespers of Pentecost from there last evening and it was done beautifully).  Compline is at 8.35pm

The Sequence for Pentecost

Ascribed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 1228)

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

Come Holy Spirit and bless us all.

Fr Danny

 

28/05/2020 -Preparing for Pentecost

24/05/2020 (7th Sunday of Easter) - Photos from the Presbytery Garden

Thy Kingdom Come 2020 – Ascension to Pentecost

“God is not in lockdown” said Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby at the live launch of Thy Kingdom Come 2020 celebrated in prayer with Archbishop Sentamu and Cardinal Vincent this morning. The video is available to view at https://tkc.new/livelink.

Cardinal Vincent spoke of the richness of these days; a time of waiting, trusting and not-knowing that resonates with the experience of many people in these strange and difficult times. He stressed the importance of the gifts of gratitude, joy and service that hold Christians of all denominations together and prayed for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the gifts we are given and to use them in the field of our world.

The Archbishops spoke of the importance of praying together, as families, as church communities and as inter-denominational communities. There are many excellent resources available at www.thykingdomcome.global

In Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire the Thy Kingdom Come Ecumenical Planning Group has put together a programme starting with a launch event this evening and including daily prayers from Regional Church Leaders, including our own Bishop Paul on Wednesday. There are family prayers and resources and daily evening reflections. There will be a Beacon celebration posted on Pentecost Sunday. A full programme, with YouTube links, is available at www.stalbans.anglican.org/faith/thy-kingdom-come/

‘The Prayer and Care: ideas for families’ can be found at www.stalbans.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/Prayer_and_Care_Family_TKC2020.pdf

Preparation to reopen our churches

Fr Danny received a letter from the Cardinal this week about the future re-opening of our churches.

An extract from that letter is below:

The time has come for us to begin to prepare for the opening of our churches. Exactly when that opening may be is not known, but you are aware of the indicative date of 4 July and, given the current discussions, some more limited opening may be possible before then. You and I also know the thirst that our people have to return to pray before the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament even before the resumption of the celebration of the Mass. There are many things to be attended to before that can happen as we have a duty to ensure that our churches are as free as possible of the risk of spreading the virus. While some are eager to enter the church, others are fearful. We must help people to move from seeing the church as another place of risk to one where they can find peace and sanctuary. This is a demanding and necessary service. It is indeed part of our ministry of giving witness to the Lord’s ways of grace and salvation in which we put our trust. The place of sacraments in the Catholic faith is one of its great and distinguishing gifts. It is the intention of the Government’s ‘Places of Worship Taskforce’ to produce guidance which ‘supports places of worship across England to open safely’ (HMG press release, 15 May 2020). This guidance will shape our responsibilities, together with any more specific guidance about our own churches. Even before this guidance is published, there are things we can do to prepare for the reopening of our churches.

21/05/2020 - Cardinal: Pray fervently for the coming of the Holy Spirit

The Cardinal has recorded a video of a pastoral message in preparation for Pentecost. In it, he reflects on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, particularly in the context of the circumstances in which we are living at the moment.

 

A message from Missio’s National Director Fr Anthony Chantry

At Missio we try to express and build solidarity through prayer and action. Prayer focuses our hearts and minds on God’s compassion for suffering humanity. Action calls each of us to give what we can to make a difference. The Holy Father has established an emergency fund to come to the aid of those people and communities who are being tragically impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. He has asked each one of us to contribute what we can to help the Church overseas, through Missio. Any gift that you can give at this time will help our missionaries reach out to the most vulnerable people and offer them spiritual and practical support; and any prayer you offer for them will surely be heard. You can donate by phone on 020 7821 9755 or online at www.missio.org.uk

A new social media campaign, #FaithInLockdown, leading up to World Communications Day, Sunday 24th May, and beyond. This campaign is inspired by the Message from Pope Francis for World Communications Day. In this he invites us to share our stories, and particularly this year to share stories of how we are keeping our faith alive during the lockdown. Share stories of faith and use the hashtag #FaithInLockdown on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Catholic Bishops respond to Government’s lockdown easing plans

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has responded to the government’s document released today, 11 May, titled ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’.

Statement

The timing and the manner of the opening of churches touches profound sensitivities and spiritual needs. The Government’s document and statements fail to recognise this.

The Government’s position, established today, includes these steps aimed at opening churches as soon as possible: the establishment of a task force for places of worship, to work closely with ‘stakeholders’ in ensuring that premises are COVID-19 secure; and heeding the experience of other countries in which churches are already open for worship.

In dialogue with the Government, the Catholic Church will continue its engagement in this process and has already submitted a detailed plan, in full accordance with public health guidelines, for churches to be opened for private prayer.

The Church is ready to play its full part in the task force, understanding that this includes the possible earlier use of churches for private prayer, as a first safe step towards their use for public worship.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

14/05/2020 - Cardinal Vincent Nichols talks about safely re-opening churches for private prayer on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. You can listen here to the full interview.

15/05/2020 - Faith leaders and government agree to develop plan to enable phased and safe reopening of places of worship. The Government have issued a statement about this initiative. You can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-taskforce-developing-plan-to-reopen-places-of-worship

10/05/2020 - 5th Sunday of Easter

CAFOD'S Coronavirus Emergency Appeal: Our Catholic aid charity CAFOD has warned that a coronavirus 'tsunami' could kill as many as three million people in the world's poorer countries as it  launched a major emergency appeal to provide urgently needed aid. Your prayers and gifts are needed now more than ever to help protect the lives of those in poor communities. If you wish to donate to the appeal visit: https://cafod.org.uk/Give/Donate-to-Emergencies/Coronavirus-appeal or call 0303 303 3030. 

Christian Aid Week (10th - 16th May):  Christian Aid week will not be taking place as normal but they still need your donations to provide help where it is most needed. Christian Aid has put a number of virtual ideas on its website including a service and an e-envelope. Christian Aid also has a facebook page with links there too.If people still wish to donate during the week the information to do so is on the website. Find out more here: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week

09/05/2020 - Photos from the Presbytery Garden

Like many of you I am sure, I am noticing nature more and appreciating my garden immensely which Vincent Scheuber has developed over the year with great skill. The other morning I noticed an almighty rumpus between quite a few different bird species near a laurel bush just outside the sacristy. It crossed my mind that perhaps there was a nest in the vicinity. It now emerges that this is indeed the case. Deep within the bush there is a perfectly constructed nest with I think three sleeping baby blackbirds (I would be open to correction on the type of bird). The excellent choice of space, the amazing structure of the nest and its construction so well concealed, is a thing of wonder for me. 

The other photos are of a plaque of the Holy Family which I bought in the beautiful Benedictine Abbey of San Minato overlooking Florence and the other is of a flowering clematis named after Saint John Paul II.   When I first came here I took myself to the Harkness Garden Centre on the outskirts of Hitchin and bought two rose trees called Cardinal Hume: very many buds are beginning to show themselves and in due course I will try to share with you a suitable photograph.

With warmest best wishes.

Fr Danny

08/05/2020 VE Day 75th Anniversary - A Message from Fr Danny

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

As you know, today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day which will have some distant memories for a number of you. A day of heartfelt gratitude and remembrance.

I want to get this Daily Email out as early as possible to remind you that The Cardinal will be holding a two minute silence at Westminster Cathedral at 11.00am followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving.  This will be livestreamed and you can follow it via the Cathedral's own webpage (http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/ or https://www.churchservices.tv/westminster).  The Mass will also be recorded so that it can be viewed later.

There will be many items on television to remind us of this great day, the highlights being the coverage on BBC1 at 2.45pm of the Announcement of Victory by Winston Churchill and then at 8.00pm  'VE Day 75: The People's Victory' during which The Queen will address the nation at 9.00pm the exact time her father King George VI did 75 years ago.  

I hope it will be a day of quiet celebration and appreciation of people who have gone before us, making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives so that we can live peaceably in our own time.

With every blessing.

Fr Danny

06/05/2020 A Message from Fr Danny

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

If you have never had the chance to visit the beautiful Jesuit Church at Farm Street in Mayfair, a wonderful opportunity to do so (virtually) is provided in the Sycamore series of videos that are currently being shown via the Walsingham website. The video being shown this afternoon at 4.00pm is filmed almost exclusively in Farm Street.  I had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies when it was consecrated by Cardinal Basil Hume about 30 years ago.  A huge amount of preparation went into the planning of the ceremony by the Jesuits and the ceremony went extremely well until a very inebriated gentleman who came in from the back during the Gospel and disrupted the ceremony big time.  So badly, that the Cardinal could not begin his homily.  The community was reluctant to over react but eventually the gentleman was pacified and the ceremony proceeded.  One never quite forgets those events!.

The final quote from 'The Plague' by Albert Camus, sent in by our parishioner Dr Jane Taylor

'A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away.'

God bless you on this day that was made by the Lord; let us rejoice and be glad.

Fr Danny

04/05/2020 - A Message from Fr Danny

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

Today is the Feast of the English Martyrs.  A particular focus is on St John Houghton, the Carthusian Prior of the London Charterhouse along with six of is companions and St Richard Reynolds, a priest of the Bridgettine Order, from Syon Abbey near Isleworth who were martyred for the faith on this day 4 May 1535, some 485 years ago.  'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church'

These martyrs gave their lives for bearing witness to Christ and, as per today’s Gospel reading, they lived their lives ‘with the Spirit of their Father speaking in them’. For most of us practising our faith today, the idea of laying down our lives for the Church is a remote concept. But the sacrifice of these martyrs, fully embracing the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, goes far beyond any geographical constraints of nations or even historical constraints. Still today people shed their own blood in less tolerant areas of the world. When Pope Paul VI gave his homily in 1970 at the Canonisation of the English Martyrs, he quoted Tertullian:

‘The blood of Christians is the seed that is sown as it was with the shedding of Christ’s own blood, so it is with the sacrificial offering of her Martyrs in union with His: a source of life and of spiritual fecundity for the Church and the entire world.’  

We reflect with great gratitude and admiration for our Martyr Saints of this country whose witness has given our faith a vibrancy and resilience unique to our land.

With every blessing.

Fr Danny

03/05/2020 - A Message from Fr Danny on Good Shepherd Sunday (4th Sunday of Easter)

Dear friend and parishioner of St Thomas More,

The 4th Sunday of Easter is always known as Good Shepherd Sunday from the Scriptural readings chosen for the Mass.  

During the week we received the following from the diocese which I think will be of interest to you:

‘Good Shepherd Sunday is the day when we pray for our seminarians and encourage other men to consider the call to the priesthood. The seminaries, Allen Hall, the Venerable English College and the Beda College in Rome, where future Westminster priests are in formation, are physically closed. Nevertheless, prayer continues in the life of seminarians and staff, and they are able to participate in streamed liturgies. All have on-line lectures, regular conversations with formation staff and spiritual direction. Our seminarians are praying for an end to the pandemic, for the priests serving in the parishes and hospitals, the heroic healthcare staff and care workers, and all who are suffering from this virus. While the present reality lacks the community dimension of formation and the important common liturgical life, their studies and preparation for priesthood continue.

Due to the pandemic, as we are unable to gather in our churches to celebrate Mass, this year there will not be a collection for the Priests’ Training Fund.

Please pray for the seminarians and those discerning God’s call at this time. May they model through their actions and words the example of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who came to serve and not to be served.

Donations to the Priests’ Training Fund are always gratefully received. If you wish to make a donation, please visit the donation page.’ https://rcdow.org.uk/donate/priests-training-fund/

Have a good Sunday following a livestreamed Mass from Westminster Cathedral or wherever you have found to your liking, an enjoyable lunch and time to get some exercise.  You were all remembered at the Mass I celebrated in the church already this morning.

With every blessing.

Fr Danny

01/05/2020

A People who Hope in Christ: The Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England and Wales have addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and, specifically, the measures taken and restrictions imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus. Please click here to read it.

The second letter is written by the Bishop of Avellino. ‘A letter from the desert’ which as the Cardinal says ‘…. is reflective, sensitive, with a true ‘interiority’ in its themes. I found that it touched me quite deeply. It is simply an offering at a difficult time.’ Please click here to read it. 

18/04/2020 - Extract from message from Cardinal Vincent to the Priests of the Diocese

With these few words I really want to thank you all for the efforts of the last two weeks. I thank all of you who have been able to live stream the regular celebration of Mass and the Holy Week ceremonies. There is widespread feedback of how much this is appreciated and how extensively taken up. Many have expressed gratitude for the consolation and encouragement they have received and how this is contributing not only to a continuing practice of the faith but also a deepening of some of its important aspects. Participation figures from churchservices.tv are remarkable! Thank you all very much!

Most importantly, I wish to thank every one of you who do not have the facility to live stream and the virtual congregation that it brings, yet remain quietly faithful to the daily celebration of Mass on your own, especially in an empty church. This is an act of our ministry and of our interior dedication which can be difficult to maintain. Yet it is of immense value. In these circumstances we miss the visible presence of the faithful and the encouragement and, often, the inspiration they give us. We know, as they do, the infinite value of the Mass itself. We cling to the knowledge that at every Mass the angels and saints are with us. By celebrating Mass we make real the great prayer of Jesus and we become part of his constant pleading for the world before the Father. How much we need that pray right now! So I thank you for your fidelity and offer you every encouragement in sustaining this life-giving daily offering. Only with a steady daily routine of prayer and outreach towards others will we live through this time healthily and well. Do take care!' Cardinal Vincent Nichols

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Mass for the sick and their families, NHS front-line workers and those working in social care: The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales recognise that this time of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every person in our countries. Those who are sick, and their families, are suffering many hardships of isolation from contact with those they love. Our front-line workers in hospitals and in care homes all over our lands are giving exceptional service to those who are vulnerable at this time. In order to show a spiritual solidarity with all those who are involved in the ways described above, each week from next Thursday, a Catholic Bishop will celebrate Mass in their Cathedral which will be live-streamed for people to join. This will take place every Thursday at 7pm.  The first Mass will be on 23 April from Westminster Cathedral on churchservices.tv with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. More details including where Masses will be taking place fromcan be found here: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/health-social-care/coronavirus-guidelines/masses-for-the-sick-and-their-families-nhs-front-line-workers-and-those-working-in-social-care/

Also the Cardinal wanted us to know about an on-line retreat which begins tomorrow evening. Retreat by Mgr John Armitage for eight days from the evening of 19 April to 26 April, with conferences at 10am and 4pm each day. Find out more information here: https://www.walsingham.org.uk/2020/04/15/retreat-by-mgr-john-armitage-19th-to-26th-april/

COVID-19 and Catholic Social Teaching:Catholic Social Teaching is often described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ for Catholics. At this time when communities are coming together to act in solidarity to battle the spread of COVID-19, Catholic Social Teaching would seem more relevant than ever.

Easter Sunday (12th April)

Good morning everyone on this glorious Easter Day.

The Lord is Risen! He is Risen indeed! 
I wish you a very Happy and Holy Easter.

Last evening I watched the Easter ceremony beautifully sung
from Kings College, Cambridge, well worth tracking down.

They used this poem by Malcolm Guite which I want to share with you: 

                              Easter Dawn
'He blesses every love which weeps and grieves
And now he blesses hers who stood and wept
And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s
Last touching place, but watched as low light crept
Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs
A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.
She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,
Or recognise the Gardener standing there.
She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,
Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light
That brightens as she chokes out her reply
‘They took my love away, my day is night’
And then she hears her name, she hears Love say
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.'

Gaudium Paschale ~ HAPPY EASTER

THE LORD IS TRULY RISEN! ALLELUIA!

Fr Danny

 

 

 

THE NEW PASCHAL CANDLE LIT
FOR ALL WHO ARE SUFFERING
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED
AND FOR ALL WHO ARE
CARING FOR THE SICK AND VULNERABLE

Listen to Cardinal Vincent Nichols on your local BBC radio station on Easter Sunday: Cardinal Vincent Nichols has recorded a special radio programme for the BBC on Easter Sunday. This will be broadcast at 8am on all 39 BBC local radio stations. It will not be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, which will be broadcasting its usual Sunday Worship Service at that time.

Good Friday (10th April)

On Good Friday we celebrate the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ as a redemption for the whole human race.
Wintershall Live Stream of the Passion, Good Friday: Wintershall will be streaming a pre-recorded film today at 12pm and 3 pm. It will include clips from their Wintershall Passion plus rehearsal clips/interviews from the One Good Friday teams, as well as an interview with Peter Hutley and messages from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Jo Bailey Wells. You can watch from the comfort of your own home this year, on their Facebook page here (you don't have to be on Facebook to see it) https://www.facebook.com/Wintershallplay and afterwards on the Wintershall website Passion page. More information can be found here: Winterhsall Live Stream Promotion 2020
Stations of the Cross: Cardinal Vincent Nichols invites you to join him as he meditates on the ‘Way of the Cross’ using images from the ‘High Stations’ on the hill above the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. 
Please join him and together let us accompany Jesus on his journey of suffering and death to redeem us from our sins.
Let us pray too for all who have died, especially those who have died from coronavirus and all who will die today.
You can watch the full 35-minute meditation below.

Maundy Thursday (9th April)

I have anticipated the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the Blessed Sacrament is now in the Altar of Repose in the Lady Chapel in the manner we have done in recent years. I shall leave the Blessed Sacrament in the Lady Chapel for the evening so that you can associate yourself with praying before the Altar of Repose. Let us pray for each other on this day when we remember the gift of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.  Fr Danny.

Cardinal: #PrayForPriests during Holy Week

Cardinal Vincent Nichols is encouraging Catholics to #PrayForPriests through Holy Week – particularly on Maundy Thursday when we recall the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
“We’re asking priests to renew their promises, the promises they made at Ordination, in a personal and devotional way. And I ask you, please, to use the time after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper to include prayers for your priests. They give their lives to the Lord in His service.
“I ask you, please, this Holy Week – this Maundy Thursday – to pray for them – that they will be faithful and generous. And I know they are spending a lot of time in prayer for you.
“Let’s pray for our priests as we approach the Sacred Triduum and walk alongside Christ through his Passion, death and Resurrection.”

“A branch on the door”: Call to connect on Palm Sunday - What if everyone on Sunday April 5 in the morning, puts a branch on the door of their house or in the window, to celebrate Palm Sunday? It could be any green branch you can find. Despite the social distancing, this would help keep us connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks. We may be physically isolated, but not separated. We are united as the Body of Christ. We are the Church.

Prayer materials for Holy Week at Home

What does it mean for our spiritual well-being and salvation if we can’t fulfil our “Easter Duties”? The Cardinal has recorded a video message about Easter Duties and Confession. You can watch it here
Holy Week Programme at Westminster Cathedral: Find the Cathedral's live stream here
Praying Holy Week 2020 With Our Five Senses (St Beuno's): Download the leaflet here
A Little Retreat for Holy Week: Archbishop John Wilson, the Bishop of Southwark, has prepared a series of three short meditations to form "A Little Retreat for Holy Week". You can find the videos on the RC Southwark YouTube Channel or visit http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk/ for more information. 
Reflection Sheet (St Beuno's) - Palm Sunday, Yr A
From TenTen (for children on Maundy Thursday) – Mass of the Last Supper Gospel Video
Reflection Sheet (St Beuno's) - Easter Sunday, Yr A

St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) has introduced a new quick online way of enrolling new auxiliary members who are already known to the Parish SVP or Parish Priest. The process is aimed at volunteers looking to help out with shopping and picking up prescriptions etc. and there are also plans for Telephone Befrienders too. If you are interested in finding out a bit more about this or if you know of anyone who needs help (this is open to anyone, they don’t have to be part of the parish to receive help) then please telephone either Rachel Sporton 07941 965675 or Robert Chronnell 01438 715553 - St Thomas More SVP.

Faith leaders on prayer and worship during pandemic: On Thursday 2nd April, a video was released of the Cardinal in conversation with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on the effect of the pandemic on the closure of places of worship, how this is affecting our prayer life and ending by praying Psalm 23 together.

Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoVD2pegDJA 

The Re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary

On Sunday, 29 March 2020 – at midday – England will be re-dedicated to Mary, as we give ourselves, as the people of this country, to Mary. Although we can’t be in our churches, we can be part of the virtual congregation at home. We can respond in two ways; by making a personal promise and a communal entrustment.

In 1381, in a world of political turmoil, King Richard II, having sought the assistance of Mary, Mother of God, dedicated England to Mary as a gift or ‘dowry’. This year, the Christians of England are invited to offer themselves as a personal gift to her, in one great Re-dedication of England as Mary’s Dowry.

This Re-dedication is both a personal promise of the people of our country, and a renewal of the entrustment vows made by King Richard II in 1381.

The Angelus Promise is a spiritual exercise created to assist us to embrace the message of Our Lady, as expressed in Mary’s openness to God’s call, through her faith-filled ‘yes’. Through our own faith-filled ‘yes’, the Lord will work wonders in our lives.

At the Shrine, the Rector will briefly introduce the Re-dedication at 11.45am and invite people to a short time of prayer. The Re-dedication itself will take place at noon, at the beginning of the Pilgrim Mass which will be livestreamed.

You can watch Cardinal Vincent Nichols video message here as he leads us in making a personal re-dedication to Our Lady.

You can download the Angelus Promise and Act of Entrustment to join in with the prayers at home.

More information can be found here: https://www.behold2020.com/

Pope’s special Urbi et Orbi blessing: ‘God turns everything to our good’ – 27 March 2020

‘Urbi et Orbi’ Homily by Pope Francis

Litany of Supplication used at special Urbi et orbi

URGENT APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE FOOD BANK  - WITH SCHOOLS CLOSED AND SO MANY CONFINED TO HOME THE FOOD BANK IS MORE THAN EVER A VITAL SOURCE OF FOOD FOR THE NEEDY.  THE STEVENAGE FOOTBALL CLUB IS ASSISTING IN THE DELIVERY OF FOOD TO PREVENT FOLK HAVING TO COME TO COLLECT IT. HOWEVER, WE NEED THE INWARD FLOW OF FOOD TO CONTINUE. ONE CERTAIN PLACE IN WHICH MAKE A GIFT IS AT THE CO-OP STORE IN KNEBWORTH.  IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DONATE PLEASE BRING THE FOOD DIRECT TO THE CO-OP AND NOT TO THE CHURCHES AS THEY ARE ALL CLOSED.   WITH MANY THANKS.

A Great Idea and Suggestion…

During these very challenging days and weeks, many people have written in appreciation for the daily message from Pope Francis. One person wrote us with a great idea which we are passing along.  

After she receives her daily message from Pope Francis, she takes the time to call a relative who does not have access to email, and she reads the daily message to her over the phone.  

We thought this was a touching and very loving way to share the message and to reach out to those who may feel particularly isolated during these difficult days.   

We’re passing along this idea, since we know there are so many people in need of a human voice and a consoling message. A small gesture, perhaps, but something most could do in this time of great powerlessness and vulnerability.  

Thank you for subscribing to the Pope’s Daily Message and please pass it along... Anyone can sign up here.

From TenTen  

Ten Ten has decided to make freely available our Collective Worship resources to all schools and their families. We have created a new series of resources called Prayers for Home, which include:

Sunday Liturgy for Families

Daily Prayers for Home

We will continue to create original resources for families throughout the Easter holidays and beyond during this uncertain time for teachers, children and their families.




Prayers in response to the Coronavirus pandemic…

Are you reeling at the moment from the impact of coronavirus? Are you wondering how you’re going to cope with months of isolation or social distancing? Are you worried about work, money or how the country is ever going to recover from the impact of this pandemic? And are you looking for some kind of spiritual solace, but struggling to find words to pray. Then this little book could be just the thing for you.

It contains 52 prayers written in response to the crisis, asking for strength, encouragement and support, as well as help for loved ones and the wider world. Honest, down-to-earth and heartfelt, it’s a resource written to help you articulate what you are feeling and bring you hope in these dark and difficult days.

Grab your FREE eBook here

Churches Together in England have released the following statement

As our nation faces the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, Churches Together in England (CTE) is encouraging Christians across our nations to continue uniting in prayer, praying #PrayersOfHope in their homes at 7.00 pm each Sunday evening.

Following the overwhelming response which the National Call to Prayer and Action received on Mothering Sunday, CTE has prepared a candle poster for those who would like to place a permanent symbol in their front windows of Christ’s light shining in the darkness. Visit www.cte.org.uk/prayersofhope

This poster has been made available due to our awareness of the potential fire risk posed by lighting live candles, particularly on windowsills. We are keen to avoid adding any pressure to our emergency service personnel, particularly at this difficult time.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:5

Please join us prayer at this challenging time.

Update: 24th March 2020 - Churches to close with immediate effect

Following on from the Prime Minister's message yesterday evening, churches in the Diocese of Westminster are to close with immediate effect and to remain closed until further notice. Mass continues to be celebrated by Fr Danny. Fr Danny will continue to be praying for your intentions and for all who are suffering at this time andfor all the brave people who are working in the health service, those in key professions.

In a message to clergy last night, the Cardinal said: 'All churches must be closed, and remain closed. It is essential that we all follow this instruction, painful and difficult though it is.'

You can read the Cardinal's message to the faithful here: https://rcdow.org.uk/news/churches-to-close-with-immediate-effect/

You can watch the Cardinal's message below to us today (24th March) following the Prime Minister's historic announcement last night (23rd March) strengthening restrictions in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Dates for your diary...

Consecration to Jesus through Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation: All those wishing to consecrate themselves to Christ through Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation are invited to join midday Mass celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes live streamed from the Catholic National Shrine on Wednesday 25th March 2020. The Consecration Prayers will follow the Homily. 

The Mass will be followed by a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and the new Dowry Painting (by Amanda de Pulford), to the site of the original Holy House in the Priory Grounds at Walsingham, where the rededication will take place. After the rededication, the Dowry Painting will begin a journey to every Catholic parish in the country, never to return to Walsingham.

You will be able to watch it here: https://www.walsingham.org.uk/live-stream/

Pope Francis has asked us to join him in prayer this week.

Pope Francis has called on the world’s Christians and people of goodwill to join together to pray the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday, 25 March at 11am UK time (12pm in Rome). The ‘Our Father’ is the prayer Jesus taught his disciples and the first prayer many of us learned to pray.

Pope Francis also revealed that on Friday 27 March at 5pm UK time (6pm Rome), he will pray on the steps of St Peter’s basilica. Although the square will be empty, there will be a period of Adoration and readings from Scripture.

As Pope Francis explains, ‘To the pandemic of the virus we want to respond with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness.’ Please join in and please spread the word if you can through your social media, using #PrayForTheWorld.

"Let us be concerned for one another, to evoke a response in love and good words."
Hebrews 10:24

We know that the current arrangements greatly restrict our ability to communicate with each other and the wider Catholic community. This website brings together Catholic newspapers from around the UK.  It contains over 600 editions of various Catholic Newspapers.

Click here for details: www.ChurchPaper.co.uk

For an online copy of the Westminster Record click here: https://issuu.com/rcwestminster/docs/wr_lent_2020

LET US PRAY

The Holy Father offers Sunday Mass on March 22 for those who are dying, especially those dying alone. Pope Francis began Sunday Mass by expressing this prayer intention:

“In these days we're hearing the news of so many people who are dying … dying alone, without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones...  Let's think about them and pray for them.  For families as well, who cannot accompany their loved ones on that journey.  We pray in a special way for the dying and for their families. 

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart ... I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.  Never permit me to be separated from You.”   

Accessing Mass - Live Streaming Mass At St Hugh of Lincoln (Letchworth)

As a temporary measure to widen accessibility to watch and hear the celebration of Mass to all parishioners in these challenging times, connect to our temporary Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4dPNJNiGgOORojgZIMTkUQ from your computer or mobile device while Mass is being celebrated. This will run from 9:30 am to 11:00 am on Sundays.

Children's Liturgy

CAFOD have downloadable children’s liturgy resources which can be found here available for most Sundays throughout the year.

CAFOD is hosting a virtual children’s liturgy of the word at 10am on Sunday as a webinar. While people cannot gather together in person due to coronavirus, they can still come together as a community through prayer. Parents and children are encouraged to join CAFOD online for prayers and reflection on this Sunday’s Gospel. The liturgy will be led by catechists who would usually be leading children’s liturgy in their parish and will be based on our CAFOD children’s liturgy resources. You can register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

4th Sunday of Lent - Light a Candle

Lighting a candle may seem such a small and insignificant thing to do and yet it can and does speak volumes to us if we have open hearts and ears. This coming Sunday the 22nd March is Laetare (joyful) Sunday. Light a candle in the evening as a sign of the life and light that Jesus brings to all. 
Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem with his disciples for the celebration of Tabernacles feast. Against this rich liturgical and symbolic background, there are intense and hostile discussions between Jesus and the people and their leaders. His role and authority as a genuine teacher is questioned. The issue of his possible messianic origins is raised. Then Jesus speaks to the people and says:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (8:12)
In these days when the darkness of illness, fear and isolation is very real may we take heart and remember that no matter how dark it may seem, the life and the hope that Christ offers can never be extinguished, not by Covid-19 nor indeed anything else! 
In the darkness it is so easy to get lost, to lose one’s sense of direction and to feel isolated and alone with no visible presence or familiar landmarks. In this current crisis it feels as though the whole world is somewhat lost in unfamiliar territory, struggling to find its way in a situation where there is no map or compass to direct us. What Jesus promises is that if we turn and ask him for guidance, he will take us by the hand and lead us. He will be the light in our darkness, and he will lead us to life-here and in eternity.
In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, Presidents of CTE (Churches Together in England) are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer & Action this Sunday. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds. At 7pm this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.

 

Mother’s Day Message (22nd March 2020)

By a happy coincidence Mother’s Day occurs this 4th
Sunday of Lent also known as Laetare Sunday from the Latin word
“to rejoice”. We rejoice to celebrate the mothers of our parish and
our own mothers who have gone before us. We all know that mothers
are very special people who set the tone of family life.

May God bless them all on their special day.
Fr Danny

Pastoral Letter - Fourth Sunday in Lent (22nd March 2020)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

THE WEDNESDAY WORD

Every Thursday the Wednesday Word can be accessed from the link below.

This gives you the readings and the Gospel for the following weekend.

http://www.wednesdayword.org/

Prayers and positive readings: The diocese has provided a prayer for those in isolation, which you are encouraged to download, use and share as appropriate.

Prayer when confined to your home - Click here to access it.

Prayers during the Coronavirus Pandemic - Click here to access it. (UPDATED)

Pray As You Go offers a unique opportunity for guided prayer. They have further resources being made available in the coming days and weeks.

Sacred Space (is a ministry of the Irish Jesuits) - Offers daily prayers.  This site guides you through sessions of prayer centered on a passage of scripture. 

Make an Act of Spiritual Communion - You can find details by clicking here.

What to do if you cannot go to Confession or receive Holy Communion?

Spiritual Communion Booklet - Click here to access it

Accessing Live Stream Masses

Please click here to see a list of Mass times that are being live-streamed within the Diocese of Westminster, along with some other useful websites. Alternatively, you can join live streams from around the UK, Ireland and elsewhere here.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham live-streams their 12 noon Mass daily.

 Pope’s daily Masses and the Sunday Angelus are being streamed live on the Vatican’s YouTube channel.

TV EWTN offers daily and Sunday Mass at 12pm and 4pm

Resources to support your prayer life

Westminster Diocese - Resources during Mass Suspension

Westminster Diocese - Resources for Catechists during this time

Please, don't lose heart. Please, get deeper rooted. 
When a plant is deprived of some surface water, it has to put down deeper roots.
We are going to have to put down deeper roots of the Spirit and we know that God will nurture us.

His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Make A Home Altar

Most of us have designated places to eat, sleep, work, exercise and unwind at home - 
why not have a designated, special spot to pray, both individually and together as a family?
A home altar serves as a central place for prayer and religious practice in a Catholic household.
Further ideas can be found here –
http://katiewarner.com/homemaking/how-to-make-a-home-altar.html
https://www.catholicicing.com/how-to-set-up-a-home-altar-catholic-home-altar-ideas/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1aAWi2LLdA

Useful Sites

18/03/20 - The Cardinal has recorded a video message about the latest developments and offering a word of encouragement to the faithful. Here’s the link where it can be viewed: 
https://vimeo.com/398532027
14/03/20 - The Cardinal was interviewed on Saturday morning on the Today programme about the Church’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. You’ll find the segment that includes his interview at 8.45am (or 1 hr and 45 min in). Here is the link:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000gdsw
15/03/20 -The Bishops’ Conference have recorded a podcast with Prof Jim McManus, who has prepared the guidance for the Church, in which he explains the current situation in greater detail and offers some useful, practical advice. Here is the link:
https://soundcloud.com/catholicchurch/coronavirus-and-catholics
In light of the government’s advice asking for social distancing and reducing the number of public gatherings, the following  letter was issued on 18th March by the President and Vice-President, on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference. 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith.  It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches.  This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength.  In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Diocese of Westminster (rcdow.org.uk) and Bishops’ Conference websites. Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other.  There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue.  Please play your part in it.  The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase.  Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
‘The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want.’
May God bless us all.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
President of the Bishops’ Conference
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon
Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference
18th March 2020

General Coronavirus information issued by the Bishops can be found here.