Public Masses

Updated: 3rd July 2020

Permission has now been given for churches to open up for public worship, which means that we will be allowed soon to gather in the church to celebrate Mass together, as long as social distancing as well as various protocols and guidelines are observed. 


There will be no public Masses in the Barnstaple and Bideford parishes until the weekend of 11th/12th July, when there will be Masses in St. Mary's, Barnstaple, and the Sacred Heart, Bideford. Please check the Newsletter for times of Masses.

Please note:

  • Face masks will not be required in St. Mary’s Barnstaple but face masks will be required in The Sacred Heart in Bideford due to the size of the church. Please bring your own, although some will be available.

  • Later in July, we will look at the possibility of opening up St. Joseph's, South Molton and The Holy Family, Torrington for public Masses. As these are smaller churches, they present greater challenges.

  • Due to social distancing, numbers at each Mass will have to be limited. This might mean that if the church is full, we will have to turn people away. We would ask for you to be tolerant and understanding if this happens.

  • Please arrive early as it will take us time to get people in and seated.

  • Stewards will be needed at each Mass that is open to the public, either on a Sunday or a weekday, and you will need to follow the instructions of the stewards.

  • All those attending a Mass will need to write down their names and contact details. These will be kept for 21 days as part of the Government's "Track and Trace" programme.

  • There can be no singing.

  • Toilet facilities will not be available.

  • There are very particular norms for receiving Holy Communion:

You will have to receive Holy Communion in the hand with you arms fully outstretched in order to keep a social distance from the priest.

Communion will only be given under one kind. i.e. the Chalice will not be given to the congregation.

It is possible that Communion will be given at the end of Mass as you leave. This will depend on the numbers present and on the layout and size of the church in which the Mass is taking place.

  • Once weekday Masses have also been re-instituted, you may want to consider attending a weekday Mass in order to reduce the numbers attending a Sunday Mass.

  • It may not be possible to continue live streaming the Mass from St. Mary's on a Sunday morning. This is being looked into.

  • The Obligation to attend Sunday Mass will continue to be suspended for the time being so as to allow those who can get to Mass during the week to do so then instead, thereby leaving the limited spaces available at the weekend Masses for those who can only get to Mass on a Sunday.  There will also be some of our more elderly and/or vulnerable parishioners who will not feel ready to gather in a group with others for Mass until the circulation of the virus has decreased more within the general population.