In the past couple of weeks both Father Antony and myself have celebrated funeral Masses for the first time since lockdown began, with the exception of the funeral of Father Lawrence, which I celebrated with eight of his family members, and with Father Antony concelebrating, right at the beginning of lockdown. Afterwards even that wasn’t possible, it has been either crematorium or graveside services with limited numbers and social distancing in place, until now. These were also the first Masses of any kind with a congregation in the church since the beginning of lockdown and, while it was good to be able to celebrate, it still felt very strange. Since then, of course, the announcement has come from the First Minister that public worship could resume from 15th July, a week or so earlier than was expected. From the time of that announcement we have been putting plans in place for the resumption of Public Masses in St. Mungo’s. This isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and so much of it depends on having sufficient volunteers for stewarding; ensuring safety measures are adhered to; seating people; candle lighting; cleaning before and after services, and perhaps even queue management. We have also had to put a booking system in place and ensure that we gather the necessary details required by the NHS in the event of a Covid 19 outbreak, but also to ensure that data protection controls are sufficiently in place. Our first Public Masses will be this coming Sunday, and you will find our revised schedule on the homepage of the Website and in the Parish Newsletter section. We will keep reviewing this as we go along.
The booking system went live on Wednesday night and, from the word go, bookings were flowing in, especially for the 12 o’clock Mass on Sunday, which is now fully booked. I had a late night on Wednesday trying to record and respond to those initial bookings. The booking system itself worked perfectly, thanks to our wonderful Website manager, Paul, but I only realised the following morning that, as part of the security involved, I couldn’t simply click Reply and confirm the bookings, which is what I had been doing, so I said Praise the Lord and set out to revisit them all again and implement a new method of confirming bookings. My head is melted, as this is all so new, and I’m a technophobe, but I think it’s all working now, please God. I hope, however, that we are never in the position of having to turn anyone away who hasn’t booked, that really goes against the grain, but that is exactly what we have been instructed to do. So, let’s see how this first week goes, and we will take it from there.
Father Gareth sends his best wishes from Merthyr Tydfil and says that he and his mum are doing well. He has had messages from people saying that they want to return to the church after many years away, so he is encouraged by that. Shielding ends in Wales on 16th August, so we would expect Father Gareth to be back to us soon after that. Father Justinian continues to get encouraging word from the carers and nurses who visit and he looks well. He is also enjoying increased family visits and has even ventured out to the homes of his two brothers and their wives on a couple of occasions. He and I both got our haircuts from Father Antony last Friday, so I am very happy to be able to see again through my eyebrows. The big news from Bishopbriggs, though, is that Father Antony is an uncle again. His wee sister Jill gave birth to her first child on Thursday. He had mentioned in his homily at the 12.15pm Mass that he was waiting on word, as the 1st reading that day mentioned a woman with child nearing her time, not realising that at 12.14pm, 8lb, 8oz, Liam had entered this world just as Mass was about to begin. (As a Celtic mad family, I can’t believe that the 88 is a coincidence) So, congratulations to the parents, Jill and Ryan, also to all of the family on both sides as they welcome a new member, and of course to Uncle Antony, who is absolutely delighted, as are we all. As I mentioned before, I am the only one in the Passionist Community who drinks, so it will be up to me to wet the baby’s head, which I will make the sacrifice to gladly do.
As always, protect yourselves and your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.