From this Sunday, until further notice, we will be unable to come together on the Lord’s Day and be united by our celebration of Mass and receiving Jesus in Communion. Our Archbishop, John Wilson, has written a Pastoral letter in which he says that “In all that we will face, individually and together, we find our hope in Christ. He is our sure foundation, today, tomorrow and always.” (Copies of the Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter are on the website and at the back of the Church.)
From Saturday 21st March 2020, Mass will continue to be celebrated at St Thomas of Canterbury every day but unfortunately, this has to be without the faithful present. The continuing celebration of Mass ensures that you can join in a spiritual communion with Fr Sylvester and myself. To continue to mark the significance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, I encourage you to read the Scripture readings of the Sunday and to pray the rosary. I have left leaflets at the back of the Church for you to take home giving suggestions for prayers at home including a Prayer for Spiritual communion. There are opportunities to watch live streaming of the celebration of other Masses on the internet. Information on live streaming is available on our diocesan website and other websites and one source for Mass online is www.churchservices.tv.
Our church will remain open for prayer every day from 7.00 am until 7.00 pm. Whenever possible, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for Adoration. If you wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation the guidance is as follows; “Confession may be offered on request as long as hygiene and social distancing requirements are observed. (e.g. a physical barrier between the penitent and the priest, such as a grill and cloth)” Fr Sylvester and I will be hearing confession in this way. It is not permitted for people to queue for confession in close proximity.
We have had to suspend our children’s First Communion preparation, and the First Communion Day on 17th May 2020 is currently in doubt. The advice is that it “should be postponed until a time that allows for families and friends to gather safely with our churches.” We are also suspending Confirmation preparation. Regarding the actual Confirmation Day on 31st May 2020, the advice is that “it should be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can resume public worship.”
There will be some people in our parish community who will find themselves isolated without family support during the time. A number of parishioners have volunteered to shop or collect medicine for those who are unable to leave home for one reason or another. Do not hesitate to ring the priests on 01227 462896 and someone will contact you to help.
We rely on the generosity of parishioners for the upkeep of St Thomas. For those who have gift aid envelopes please put them through the presbytery door (at 59 Burgate, Canterbury). For those who have not done so already, you could consider taking out a standing order. Forms will be in the entrance of the church and can be downloaded from our website here. Linda, our parish administrator, will be working from home so currently, the office will be closed.
With great trust let us put ourselves in the hands of the loving Father and our loving Mother, Mary. As the Master of the Dominican Order, Father Timoner, said recently “We keep our distance not because we see our brothers and sister as a potential virus-carrier or we are afraid of getting sick; but because we want to break the chain of viral transmission.” Remember, the community that prays together stays together and while our praying may be in our own homes for a while, I know that spiritually our strength as a parish community will keep us as One Body in Christ. May the Lord fill you with His peace and healing at this time.