Celebrating Mass Together
St John Boste Church is now open for public worship for those within the Benedict Partnership. Mass will be celebrated at Monday at 10am, Wednesday 7pm, Saturday at 10am and Sunday at 10am.
St Joseph’s, Birtley will be open for Mass celebrating on a Tuesday at 6.00pm, Thursday at 12 noon and Saturday at 6.00pm.
Please note the new Tuesday evening Mass time of 7pm at St Joseph’s. Mass will be preceded by the praying of the Rosary from 6.40pm
At present the obligation to attend Mass will continue to be relaxed. In line with government requirements, parishioners MUST wear a face covering when attending Church. Seating arrangements are clearly marked; however, accommodation is limited therefore once the maximum number has been reached then no one else will be able to enter. Note: Please do not arrive for Mass on a Sunday unless you have received confirmation of a place.
Registering for Mass at St John Boste, Washington and St Joseph’s, Birtley.
If you would like to attend one of our Masses, you must book a place by following the links below. To comply with the government Track and Trace instructions we require all people attending Mass at St John Boste and St Joseph’s to register their name and contact details.
There are two ways to register:
1. Click on the link in the newsletter or website here to see the dates and links and they are also available in the information below. Please complete the online registration.
2. For those without internet access there is a dedicated mobile phone where reservations can be made: 07562 653778 (please do not use the parish office telephone number).
Please note that registration for each Mass will open at midnight one week before the Mass and will close at midnight two days before the date of the Mass. For example the Mass on Sunday 4th October will open for registration at 00:01 on Sunday 27th September and will close at 23:59 on Friday 2nd October. This allows us to produce a register for use by the stewards to record all those who attend the Mass.
If you are booking more than one place for Mass please make sure you supply ALL the names of the people you are booking for. This will save time and avoid queues when you arrive at church. Contact details for all those attending each Mass needs to be entered on the Mass Registration Form for Track and Trace purposes and writing in contact details slows down the entry process. Please note that these forms are kept for three weeks only - then shredded. This register will enable us to provide the government Track and Trace team a list of contacts should someone in the congregation be diagnosed with Covid-19.
In addition to the Track and Trace system used in church, if you have downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app onto your phone, when you visit church you will be also be able to check in by scanning a QR code at the church entrance. This will help the NHS to notify you if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus at that building. This is something that Places of Worship, businesses and organisations that are open to the public must do by law to help trace and stop the spread of coronavirus.
Click on the NHS logo on the left to find out more about the app and how to access it.
Completing Registration Forms for Mass When you are completing a registration form to attend Mass at one of the churches can you check that all boxes have the correct information before clicking on “Send”. If you allow your browser to complete the form for you, incorrect information can be entered on the form based on what you entered last time. An example of this is someone thinking they have booked 2 places but not realising their web browser has entered 3 places with three names – possibly preventing someone from attending the Mass.
What to expect when attending Mass Mass will be shorter than usual with no singing. There will also be no Offertory procession, sign of peace or children’s Liturgy. You will receive Holy Communion in the hand, which can only be distributed by the Celebrant. Hand sanitisers are provided for you to use as you enter and leave the Church and stewards will be on hand to guide people to their places. The Offertory collection will not take place, containers will be available next to the doors for your offering. Live streaming may be in effect during Mass. If you do not wish to be at risk of being filmed, please inform one of the stewards when entering the church.
Here are the links for Masses at St John Boste: Please note revised times and days
Please Note: Weekend Masses are booked up fairly quickly but there are places available to attend the weekday Masses. Weekday Masses are generally only half full at present so if you are available why not attend a weekday Mass?
Live Streamed Mass FAQ (Frequently asked Questions)
Many people have asked similar questions regarding the 10am streamed Mass so here are a few answers.
Q. Why do we not see people receiving communion?
A Some people have requested that they do not appear on the streamed Mass. To avoid including them by accident the camera will always be refocused away from the communicants. They will also be seated in an area of the church not covered by the camera.
Q Why is the Mass not available afterwards for those who cannot join at 10am?
A The 10am Mass is an opportunity for people to come together as a parish community, some physically present while others are present virtually. This coming together of the parish community would not happen if people just logged on whenever it was convenient.
Q Does the celebrating priest see the chat comments?
A The simple answer is – No. The chat is not viewed by the celebrant, however, if they are not celebrating elsewhere the other priests might be able to see the Facebook chat. So, if you want to say good morning to the priests then address your chat to those not presiding.
What to expect when attending Mass
Mass will be shorter than usual with no singing.
There will also be no Offertory procession, sign of peace or children’s Liturgy.
You will receive Holy Communion in the hand, which can only be distributed by the Celebrant.
Hand sanitisers are provided for you to use as you enter and leave the Church and stewards will be on hand to guide people to their places.
The Offertory collection will not take place, containers will be available next to the doors for your offering. Live streaming may be in effect during Mass.
If you do not wish to be at risk of being filmed, please inform one of the stewards when entering the church.
Please do not come to church if you are displaying any symptoms of the virus.
While things may seem a little different for a while it is wonderful that we are able to gather again as a family of faith to celebrate the Sacraments in a safe and measured way.
The SVP have had no funds coming in over the past months of lockdown and yet have still been helping many people in difficulties, so funds are very low. As you leave St John Boste church there will be a collection plate for the SVP and your support will be much appreciated.
Churches Open for Private Prayer in the Benedict Partnership
Due to social distancing measures, there will be a limited capacity in each church, and, where there is no booking system, you may be required to queue outside the Church depending upon numbers.
St Joseph’s Birtley
Open for private prayer and reflection as follows:
• Mondays 12.00am-1.30pm
• Wednesdays 12.00am-1.30pm
For the latest information please go to St Joseph's website.
St John Boste Please note revised times and days
Open for private prayer and reflection as follows:
• Mondays 09.30am
• Wednesdays 06.30pm
• Saturday 09.30am
Mass will follow private prayer and if you have not booked for Mass, you may be asked to leave the Church. Thank you for your help.
For the latest information please go to St Michael's website.
Reopening Churches in the Partnership
Pope Francis talks about discernment a lot, but what does it mean? If we believe that God is acting in the world through the Holy Spirit, it makes sense to try to follow the movements of that Spirit in our lives. This does not only happen in peak mo-ments of prayer or liturgy, but throughout our experience. Discernment of spirits is the reflective exercise of trying to sift through our feelings and thoughts, to see which could indicate the movements of God as he draws us to life, and which could indicate a countermovement, getting in the way of our relationship with God. https://www.pathwaystogod.org/resources/questions-answers/what-discernment
At a couple of recent meetings the partnership development group have met to discern the way forward during the pandemic and afterwards when all the restrictions regarding people meeting together will be lifted. It has certainly been a time to weigh things up on so many levels for all of us, ‘to sift through our feelings and thoughts’.
At present we have half of our Benedict Partnership Churches open and by the end of September we hope to be near to com-pleting the opening of all our Churches, the only unknown at the moment is Our Lady Queen of Peace; we’re waiting for a date for some extensive internal structural work that will take a couple of months to do, once we are clear when this will happen we can plan its reopening too.
Once open, all the Churches will have mass celebrated again albeit with much reduced congregations, it seems to be about 10% of the normal capacity of the church, 30 – 40 people. We must abide by the guidelines to protect people. For this reason the Bishops of England and Wales have suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and we are encouraged to go mass on whatever day we can manage under the current limitations. Many people have been making use of the online streaming of mass.
We propose that each Church will have one Sunday Mass once all the Churches reopen:
St Bede’s, Washington – Saturday Vigil 5pm
St Joseph’s, Birtley – Saturday Vigil 6pm (to move to 5pm too)
St Bede’s, Sacriston – Sunday 9am
St. John Boste, Washington – 9:30am
Our Lady Queen of Peace, Penshaw – 10am
St Cuthbert’s, Chester-le-Street – 10:30am
Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Washington – 11am
With the support of the Partnership Development Group your priests have made this decision because:
All of the seven churches will be stronger if we work in partnership. Given the relatively small number of people and priests, parishes can no longer be self-sufficient; we need one another.
When the Covid-19 restrictions are finally lifted we do not know what the future shape of our returning worshipping com-munities will be. It’s already clear that people are fearful about returning so we need to respond with trust in God to guide us through this new phase of our Church’s life, supporting and caring for each other.
This pattern creates space so that Sundays can be managed by three priests. In the short term this will take into account times when one of the priests is away. In the not too distant future two of us will reach retirement age and any of us could be asked to move by the Bishop at any time. It also allows us, when all four priests are resident to be a resource to help out in other parishes should they need help because of holiday or sickness absence of their own priest.
You may well be dismayed if the mass you usually attend has disappeared; please know that we have not taken this decision lightly but with the best interests of everyone in mind. Please pray that as we move into our new future God will continue to guide us and build us up.