Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Mill Lane, Weston-in-Arden, Bulkington, Warwickshire CV12 9RU
Parish Priest: Father Michael Gamble S.T.B. (Dean VF), Father Mathew - Assistant Priest
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Rye Piece Ringway, Bedworth, Warwickshire CV12 8JH
Parish Sisters: Sister Mary Jane and Sister Beena
St Francis Catholic School, Rye Piece Ringway, Bedworth, Warwickshire CV12 8JN
Rugby Catholic Deanery: https://rugby-catholicdeanery.org.uk/

Part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham: Registered Charity No. 234216   Last update:  1 May 2021

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 Sunday 2nd May 2021 - Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
"Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty." John :15:1-8

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Please Note: ALL Masses will be STREAMED: DAILY MASSES: TUESDAY – FRIDAY 9.30am, SATURDAY 4.00pm, SUNDAY 9.30am and 10.30am.

Following the recent meeting of the Coronavirus Places of Worship Task Force there have been some clarifications, particularly regarding safety and opening of churches.  I know this has been raised as an issue in a number of parishes, where concern has been expressed as to whether our churches should remain open during the current lockdown given the very high rate of infection in certain areas of the Archdiocese. 

 The main points of the meeting regarding safety are as follows:

1.                   Health professional research to date indicates that the new virus variant is as well controlled by social distancing and mitigations as the old.  Further studies are taking place for a more concrete verification on this matter.

2.                   HMG stressed that there would be no blanket closure of places of worship.  They asked that each Place of Worship should re-evaluate their own local situation and examine all factors that could affect the good covid security demonstrated by places of worship so far.  This is to include (but is not limited to):

    1. Sufficient stewarding and management of the venue
    2. Sufficient cleaning after acts of communal worship
    3. Maintaining good social distancing in the space available along with good ventilation
    4. Factors affecting travel to and from the place of worship, such as public transport
    5. The length of exposure time for an act of worship is critical and should be minimised – anything that is not necessary should be omitted.
    6. Those who have gathered for worship should not mingle before or after the service outside of the church.  They should disperse immediately.
    7. All non-essential worship should be postponed or cancelled (see below)

3.                   The officials noted that keeping covid secure places of worship open for public worship adds no extra burden to the NHS and provides recognised benefits for the community.

4.                   The task force expressed with great clarity that the role of the Local Authority is one of enforcement of closure in particular circumstances on the basis of evidence of lack of COVID security. 

5.                   PHE will conduct an exercise in mapping exposure risks from different venues across the country for better data.

 As I mentioned in my last email to clergy, I believe it would be a good idea, at this stage, to review your arrangements, given the apparent increased danger of transmission of the virus and the vulnerability of your congregation, those who assist you and possibly yourselves.  You can use your discretion as to whether, taking into account the availability of stewards, cleaners etc. or simply for pastoral reasons, you wish to continue with the existing level of Mass provision or whether you wish to revise the number of Masses or, indeed, close the church.  As was the case in the first lockdown, do not feel pressured to do anything that you feel will put you or anyone else at risk.  Although priests can open their churches they are not obliged to do so.  Your congregation can be reminded that the Sunday obligation remains suspended and that live-stream Masses are widely available.  Should you decide that the wisest course of action would be to close the church I would be grateful if you could inform me, giving your reasons, in order that I may be able to deal with any enquires that come my way.

 The meeting of the Task Force also considered the question of vaccines, requesting us to support the roll-out.  In addition there are some further clarifications giving updated guidance for places of worship and music, which I set out below. 

Vaccines and their roll-out in the Community

  1. All faith communities were asked to encourage and support the roll-out of the vaccines.
  2. There should be explicit encouragement of community members to take up the offer of vaccines whenever it is offered to an individual.  Evidence across the country is showing that there is “vaccination hesitancy” amongst certain groups of people, in particular the BAME community, because of misinformation on social media.  There was strong encouragement from HMG to counteract this strongly.
  3. In our case, the fact that Pope Francis will be vaccinated next week should be stressed along with his own personal endorsement for vaccination.  See https://www.rt.com/news/512030-pope-francis-covid19-vaccine/
  4. There was a request for volunteer support in areas with vaccination hubs/centres and this should be done through the local health commissioning groups.  There are lots of different roles that are necessary such as stewarding, as well as a request for former healthcare workers to assist in the inoculation programme.
  5. HMG published the Vaccination roll-out plan today.  It is found here:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951284/UK_COVID-19_vaccines_delivery_plan.pdf
  6. We raised the issue of vaccination for hospital chaplains and care home chaplains, as well as clergy in general, and this will be followed up by email.

Updated Guidance for Places of Worship

The MHCLG has updated the Places of Worship Guidance on 11th January which can be found here:


The general approach of the guidance is an extension of the previous rules in place under Tier 4 in December.  However, it has been amended to reflect the new national restrictions. These restrictions:

·               require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes;

·               prevent people gathering with those they do not live with, except for specific purposes; and,

·               close certain businesses. 

Attending a place of worship is one of the very few legal exemptions that allow larger numbers to gather in the same venue.  To keep everyone safe, where places of worship choose to open it is crucial that those attending comply with the law and COVID-19 Secure guidance. 

The following activities are regarded as activities that should not take place at the present time in a Place of Worship: 

  1. Baptisms or other ceremonies which mark significant life cycle moments but which do not take place as an established part of normal communal worship (with the exception of commemorative events that celebrate the life of a person who has died).
  2. Prayer or study groups in person.
  3. Lifestyle and leisure/recreational groups such as craft groups or exercise groups.
  4. Amateur choir practice or group bell ringing.
  5. Tourism and shops contained within the place of worship.

In addition to this summary, there are other key changes:

  1. A Revised wording on weddings to highlight the consideration that is required from those participating about whether the circumstance is exceptional in order to proceed at this time.
  2. Strongly suggesting that singing should only take place where it is essential to the act of worship, and should be restricted to professional performance or those leading the act of worship.

Singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols and through direct contact. Singing, playing some musical instruments, shouting and physical activity increases the risk of transmission through small droplets and aerosols. Existing risks increased by new variants of the virus, mean that additional safeguards should be put in place to minimise opportunities for the virus to spread:

  1. Where singing or chanting is essential to an act of worship, this should be limited to one person wherever possible. Exceptionally, where it is essential to the service, up to three individuals should be permitted to do so. Strict social distancing should be observed and the use of Plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect worshippers, and each other.
  2. Communal singing should not take place. This applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used.
  3. Chanting, shouting and/or playing of instruments that are blown into should also be avoided in communal worship and in rehearsals.
  4. Where communal singing plays a big part in worship, and recordings are available, we suggest you use these as an alternative to live singing. If a place of worship hosts a professional group, for rehearsing or worship, you should follow the performing arts guidance.
  5. Avoid playing recorded music at a volume that may result in people using raised voices or shouting to communicate when arriving or leaving for worship.
  6. Spoken responses during worship should not be in a raised voice.
  7. Good ventilation plays a crucial role in reducing transmission. Do what you can to improve ventilation whenever possible.

With Love & Prayers,
God Bless,

Fr Michael Gamble
Parish Priest & Dean VF.

Father Michael Gamble S.T.B.
The Presbytery
Mill Lane
CV12 9RU
Telephone: 024 7631 2293
Fax: 024 7664 3368
E-mail : michaelgamble@olshweston.org
Click HERE for local map

St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Parish Office
Rye Piece Ringway
CV12 8JH
Telephone: 024 7631 2293
Click HERE for local map

St Francis Catholic Primary School
Rye Piece Ringway
CV12 8JN
Telephone: 024 7631 5279
E-mail: admin3502@welearn365.com
Website: http://www.stfranciscatholicprimary.co.uk/

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