If you heard or read my homily from last Sunday, you will know I talked about how things in many ways seem to have been put on hold at the moment and that we are waiting for normality to return. But there are some things which haven’t been put on hold, and can’t be put on hold. It’s been a delight and a joy to hear recently of the birth of babies. A parishioner in Bideford sent me a photo this week of her new great, great niece. A new born baby always brings great joy to us and gives us something to smile about. They are a wonderful symbol of the future. And particularly at this present time, they are a sign that not everything has been put on hold and that there is hope for the future.
It is always good to remind ourselves that there are good things and joyful things in our lives even when times may be a little difficult. God does continue to impart his blessings upon us. Wonderfully the sun continues to shine down upon us. The weather we have had over this lockdown period has been astonishingly good, which has surely been a blessing indeed, allowing us to get out into our gardens and to go walking.
Now that the lockdown restrictions have been slightly relaxed, I recently drove up to the North Devon Coast to walk part of the Coastal Path. It was a beautiful, if challenging, walk. Challenging both due to how steep the path is in places and challenging because of a certain encounter with nature. It is the time of year also for fairly new born cows. Cows, quite rightly, are very protective of their calves. Unfortunately a footpath went through a field in which there were cows and their young calves. Whilst I tried to sneak quietly along the edge of the field, those rather unhappy cows were having none of it and were getting increasingly closer. All I can say is, how quickly one finds a way of getting over a barbed wire fence when needs dictate. Somebody seems to have forgotten to inform those cows about social distancing!
Yes, in many ways, as a society we have put things on hold, but in many other ways life goes on. Nature does not stop even for Coronavirus. God continues to shower down his blessings upon His Creation.
It may well take a bit of time for us to return to what we understand to be normality but we are finding increasingly inventive ways around the problem we are facing. Fr. James and I eventually managed to overcome the challenge of live streaming Mass from St. Mary’s. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of First Communion classes resuming online. This is now about to start. It was announced this week that one of our seminarians, Albert Lawes, who is currently residing at Cathedral House in Plymouth, will be ordained a deacon in July. It will no doubt be a quiet affair, with just the Bishop and the priests in residence at the Cathedral present, but it is a great joy for the diocese. Albert will go on to be ordained a priest at a later date. Do keep him in your prayers.
Life goes on, perhaps not quite in the same way at present, but let us be thankful for the good things in our lives.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Frederick Norman who died on 30th May 2018.
If you have any prayer requests that you would like to be included in the newsletter, please do email or phone them in.
The Re-Opening of Churches
A number of parishioners have enquired recently about when our churches can be reopened and when there can be the public celebration of Mass. We do not yet have a definite answer to this and are reliant upon the decisions made by the Government. There has been some intimation that churches may be reopened for private prayer sometime in July, although this is not certain. Even if this is allowed, we will have to fulfil various requirements in order to do this in what is deemed a safe way. Therefore, it may not be possible to open churches all day, every day, and it may not be possible to open some churches initially at all. We would probably need volunteers to meet these requirements and these would probably have to be under 70 and with no underlying health issues. The celebration of public Mass is not yet on the horizon.
Thank You for Your Support
A lot of parishioners are continuing to make donations to the parish in one way or another. This is so helpful and important at this time. Although there are no public Masses and we cannot yet open our churches, nevertheless there are still ongoing costs to be met. So we do say a big thank you for your donations. We have been trying to contact parishioners who have made donations in order to say that it has arrived safely and to thank them. This has not always been possible as sometimes donations are made anonymously and sometimes we do not have contact details. So we apologise if we haven’t been able to contact you but we are appreciative of your support.
Parishioners can continue to support the parish either by posting cheques or money to the presbytery, by standing order, or by BACS transfer. If you want to set up a standing order to donate by BACS, then you will need the parish bank account details, in which case please contact us.
A number of parishioners paid their subscriptions to the 100 Club before or during the lockdown. Although the 100 Club is not operating at present, as soon as it possible the 100 Club will resume. We would like to reassure parishioners that a record has been kept of who has subscribed.
Our Parish Communities
At present, the two of us (Fr. Peter & Fr. James) have responsibility for Barnstaple Parish, consisting of St. Mary’s, Barnstaple and St. Joseph’s, South Molton, and also Bideford Parish, consisting of The Sacred Heart, Bideford, and Holy Family, Torrington. Although our ministry to you all is restricted at the moment, please do be assured that we keep you all in our prayers.
Support of the Vulnerable:
If you or anyone you know is vulnerable and in need of practical support - shopping, collecting prescriptions etc, then both Fr. Peter and Fr. James are willing to help. Please do contact us.
Message from the Diocesan Safeguarding Office
“I don’t have to tell you that we are undergoing a national crisis at the moment, which as well as bringing all the problems of the current pandemic , also creates increased safeguarding risk in many areas. These include domestic abuse, mental health issues, the vulnerable being scammed to mention but a few. If you have any safeguarding concerns either personally or for any other person then do not hesitate to contact the Safeguarding Office which remains open and available to assist. To contact us either email me direct on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me on 01364 645431, which will be transferred to my mobile.”
Robert Brown, Safeguarding Coordinator, Diocese of Plymouth.
We are still able to offer mass intentions. All Masses that are not filled with parishioner requests will be said for the sick and the dying or for the parish. Please post, telephone or email your requests.