When Churches re open…

At the moment there is no indication from government as to when churches might reopen.

It will probably be, in the first instance, for private prayer, with no services, no recitation of the rosary, no Divine Office together. Churches will not open all at once, but only when each building has everything it needs in place and has been inspected by a diocesan official who will recommend to Bishop Ralph that it is ready to open.

Our churches in Rotherham will, to begin with, be open for up to two hours on a given day.

What is required includes:

A team of stewards/cleaners.

Stewards will be present throughout the time the church is open;

  • they will regulate entry to the church (social distancing) and take contact details of those entering the building (if this is deemed necessary as it will be when services resume as attendance will have to be pre-booked and to assist in any public health operation involving track and tracing);
  • ensure that people use the hand sanitiser provided as they enter;
  • ensure people sit only in designated places;
  • ensure people keep 2m distancing at all times;
  • mark the places occupied when people leave and not allow those seats to be re-used in that session;
  • ensure people do not touch statues, icons etc (there will be no holy water and no candles);
  • ensure there is enough hand sanitising gel at the entrance;
  • clean the benches, other surfaces when the session is over.

Rotas can be employed but stewards must appreciate the level of commitment required if the church is to remain open.

The necessary cleaning equipment. This is being obtained by the diocese at a cost to each parish.

Training will be given on how to wear the PPE, identify areas to be cleaned and how to clean the areas identified.

The level of commitment will require an understanding that this is for the long term which will mean well into the next year. The more volunteers we have the easier it will be to maintain the rota. If we do not have the volunteers then our churches cannot open.

When we are able to gather for liturgies in the church then after every ceremony the area will have to be cleaned.

The co-operation of parishioners to follow the guidance which includes:

  • entering the church by the designated entrance and leaving by the exit signed;
  • cleansing hands using the provided hand sanitiser upon entering and leaving the church;
  • maintaining 2m social distancing at all times;
  • following the guidance of the stewards;
  • touching as few things as possible;
  • staying in church no more than ten minutes per session;
  • not moving round the church.

Please note: The toilets are out of use, and will not be open in any circumstances. Access to the sacristy is not permitted except to designated people and only when the priest is not using the sacristy.

Following Government guidelines no one can be accepted as a volunteer steward/cleaner if you:  

  • received a letter asking you to stay indoors during the lock down (shielding); or
  • are over seventy; or
  • have an underlying health condition.

More information will follow when it is available and the current information shared may need to be amended depending on government guidelines in the future.

Thank you those who have volunteered. Now that you know a little more what is required, please confirm your willingness to fulfil this very important role by emailing me at desmond.57@btinternet.com text 07484111906 or ring 01709 363753

Fr. Desmond.