• Reyna's Baptism!

    Congratulations to Reyna, with her parents Ola, Betty and Jason

  • Olivia's Baptism!

    Congratulations to Olivia, with her parents Paul, Laura and family

  • Andy and Lucille's Wedding!

    Many congratulations to Andy and Lucille

  • Harry's Baptism

    Many congratulations to Harry and his parents Natalie and Matt!

  • Congratulations!

    Many congratulations to Michael and Lucy on their wedding!

  • Confirmation 2019

    Congratulaions to: Bonnie, Imani, Henry, Darrell and Chimezie!

  • Baptism of Louis!

    With Parents Kim & Darren

  • Baptism of Beatrice!

    With Parents James & Kellie

  • Baptism of Jake & Henry!

    With Parents Leah & Dan and friends

  • At the 'Flame' Event!

    Our Fabulous young people!

  • Baptism of Joseph!

    With parents Clare and Martin & sister Lily

  • Our Gardening Group

    Some members hard at work!

  • Guild of St Stephen

    Our newly enrolled servers!

  • Isabelle's Baptism!

    Parents Andy and Lucille and Godparents with Fr Brett

  • Austin's Baptism!

    Parents Aaron and Nicola and family with Fr Brett

  • Confirmation 2018!

    Bishop Alan and Fr Brett with our fabulous Confirmani!

  • Our Parish Church

    Ness Road Shoeburyness

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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My dear friends in Christ,

As many of you are aware, both local and national Covid cases are very high, due mainly to the new variant. And sadly, we have also been seeing record levels of deaths. We remember in our prayers those who have died, and the family and friends left behind. What we call ‘society’, and ‘normal life’, has taken a heavy hit; our schools are closed, as well as many shops and businesses. Our hospitals, both locally and nationally, are under immense pressure: the situation for our health service is very serious. We remember and pray for all of those affected – I think of all the staff who work in Southend hospital, particularly those who are at the ‘front line’ of Covid care. The task ahead of them is enormous, relentless and exhausting.

I think of teachers, especially those at St George’s School, who are juggling ever-changing directives from Government, and I think of young people who have had exams cancelled. I am very mindful of those in the community who live alone, those who are shielding, and medically vulnerable. Some parishioners have had Covid; but thank goodness it was not serious enough to warrant a visit to hospital. Many parishioners have had to isolate. This is a time for each of us to hold the whole community in prayer.

Within the legislation in force for the third national lockdown is the provision that places of worship can remain open for acts of collective worship – in our case, Mass. I must confess that I feel anxious about this; I am concerned for the health of the congregation who attend and for the stewards who ‘staff’ each Mass. I am also aware of my own vulnerability of being an asthmatic. Since March, the Bishops have suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, which means you do not have to come to Mass.

Various parishes throughout the diocese livestream their Mass, so with this link 'Live stream Parish Masses across the Diocese' it is possible to ‘attend’ from your own homes without adding risks by coming out of your front door. Nothing can replace receiving the Eucharist, but in a time of such crisis, Spiritual Communion is available to everyone, and helps keep everyone safe. The Government’s clear message is “Stay at Home” unless it is essential to leave the house. It is also the case that the church is a much-needed sacred space, an oasis for prayer and peace, and very helpful for people in navigating such uncertain times. To close the church doors would, for some, be a cause of despair, and very damaging. For this reason, the Mass schedule at the church is being maintained for the moment, but this policy is always under review.

Again, I repeat that the safest thing to do at the moment is to stay at home and watch and pray Mass from there. Most certainly, do not come to church if you have symptoms of Coronavirus. You should get a test and stay at home. And do not come if you have medical conditions that make you more vulnerable to Covid; you should be shielding. Please be cautious and safe. It is heart-breaking enough to hear the sad stories of folks dying from this horrible disease, but for one of you – my parish family – to succumb to it would be even more distressing.

God bless you all and keep you safe,

Fr Brett

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Fr Brett's Latest Photo!

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Church Re-Opening for Mass Guidance

Dear friends,

Dear friends,

Sorry for this long email, but there is a lot to cover. The information provided here is supplementary to my previous email, so it is important that you are aware of its content.

I would like to take you through some significant points about our opening for Mass – please read carefully.

Booking

As I mentioned before, because of the reduced capacity, you will need to book your seat(s) for Mass beforehand and well in advance. Turning up on the ‘off chance’ would most likely result in you not being able to attend Mass because the church could be full.

As we have to provide a ’Track & Trace’ audit trail, the easiest and most helpful way to book is online (please see our Parish website - www.saintgeorgeschurch.co.uk.)

If you are unable to do this, try to find someone else who can. But remember, for ‘Track & Trace’ purposes, they must use your details and not their own. When you book online an email will automatically be sent to Sharon who will allocate your seats and email you back with the details. If it is out of her office hours, she will not be able to get back to you immediately. Please be patient and please be content with the seats allocated for you; we are not able to chop and change. It is an administrative challenge as it is.

If you are unable to do any of the above two options, then please telephone Sharon during her office hours to book it for you.

If you do come along on the ‘off chance’ and there happens to be space, then one of the stewards will need to take a few details from you for ‘Track & Trace’ purposes.

The online booking system will be going live on a Monday and will close at 12 noon on Friday's. This will give you the opportunity to book for Masses on the following week.

Face-coverings in church are currently mandatory. Please arrive in good time before Mass starts.

On reopening our churches for Mass, Cardinal Vincent Nichols offers these cautionary words: - ‘Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal’.

We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.'

Arriving at the church

On entering the church, please sanitise your hands and then wait to be assisted by a steward. You should already know your place in the church from when you booked it online or by telephone. However, there will be a ‘seat map’ displayed in the outer porch with your name on it. Pews are identified by letters and numbers, i.e. L1 = Left hand side of church, pew 1.

Mass

Please note that the UK Government has stated that Services should be conducted in, ‘the shortest possible time’.

Mass will unfold in the usual way except there will be no singing. We cannot provide Mass cards because of the risk of transmission of the virus. If you have a Missal, please bring it with you. To start off with, the readings will be done by the duty Altar Server.

Procedure for Holy Communion

The Communion Rite has been ‘reworked’ and is quite different! I will explain at each Mass the procedure that needs to be followed, however, here are the highlights: -

• At the place where communion is to be given to the congregation, a physical barrier (prie-dieu) will be there to socially distance the priest from the communicant.
• You must remain seated until you are invited to come forward by the steward.
• When you approach the priest, you should put out your arms at “full stretch” so that there is a good distance between you and him. Your hands, palms upwards, one on top of the other, should be extended as flatly as possible. Communion will then be given silently and in the hand.
• Having consumed the host, you may return to your seat to say a brief prayer of thanksgiving, after which you must leave the church (the Blessing and dismissal has already taken place).
• As you leave the church, please sanitise your hands.
• There will be baskets for you to place your offering in. If there is a 2nd Collection, there will be a basket marked as such.
• Please be aware of others and the social distancing regulations as you leave.
• Please do not congregate in the porch or outside the church.
• After you have left church it will be cleaned.

A note about Holy Communion

If you feel uncomfortable and would rather not receive Holy Communion, that is perfectly ok. Instead, you can simply make a spiritual communion. Here is a prayer to help you: -

Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as being already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.

It will take some time for us to adapt to these changes and we may have to make little adjustments along the way, so please be patient and understanding.

I am extremely grateful to Sharon, David and Frank, who have worked very hard – and continue to do so – to make all this happen.

With every blessing,

Fr Brett