Covid 19, Pastoral letter

24 March 2020
Peace in Christ!
I write to update you on some of our recent Parish arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are going through very difficult and unprecedented times in the history of the Church, as well as in human history. But, this too will pass! There had been plagues and epidemics in the past and those tragic events brought people to strengthen their faith and be closer to God rather than doubt the love and mercy of God.
I know that you are missing something which you hold so precious in your lives – reception of our Lord in the Holy communion. We are not gathering on Sundays, but we are still in communion with one another and we continue to show our care for one another. At this time, we have to be more considerate to the needs of other people and be a comforting presence through phone, email among others. Fr Anthony and I will be communicating with you through email, Facebook and our Parish website. We will be praying for you every day in the Holy mass we offer privately, which you can watch on our Facebook page and website. Please share this communication to those who have no internet access by printing a copy and leaving it in their letter box. Don’t panic, keep safe, don’t hoard, pray more and hope for the best. We Priests are only a phone call away (02 5507 4048). In case you come to know someone is infected with COVID-19 please inform us so that we can pray for their safety and wellbeing.
Government Orders – What has changed?
As per the Public Health (COVID-19 Places of Social Gathering) Order 2020 section 5 (1)(h), the Minister directs that places of public worship must not be open to members of the public except for the purposes of conducting wedding services or funeral services. This means that the following places of worship are closed with immediate effect and for the foreseeable future:
• St Patrick’s Church, Singleton
• St Paul’s Church, Glendonbrook
• Immaculate Conception Church, Broke
• St Brigid’s Church, Branxton
• St Catherine’s Church, Greta

To comply with Government orders the following have been cancelled for 2020:
• Celebration of Holy Week and the Sacred Paschal Triduum (Easter)
• The Parish Sacramental Program
• Baptisms (postponed until further notice)
Our Parish Office will continue to be staffed from 9am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday. However, the door to the office will be locked and you are asked to ring the bell if visiting.
The Parish Bulletin will still be produced and published on our Parish Facebook Page (Catholic Parishes of Singleton and Branxton) and our Parish Website (www.singletoncatholicparish.org.au). Requests for Mass to be said for anniversaries and the sick can be phoned, emailed or dropped into the Parish Office or the locked letterbox at the door of the office.
Keeping Sunday Holy – What can we do?
Irrespective of the nature of your affiliation with the Church, this message is for you. In this COVID-19 pandemic many are feeling extremely isolated. Health, general wellbeing and financial security are threatened. At these times we can be pushed to ponder the deeper questions about life and meaning, and may go in search for God and prayer.
There are limited copies of ‘God’s Word – Daily Reflections 2020’ available to purchase at the Parish Office for $12.
In addition to this, the accompanying appendix suggests ways we can continue to pray as individuals and small groups. To support us in this, LiturgyHelp is making available to everyone a range of resources through a simple login process described in the attached document. The resources available include:
• Daily Missal texts
• Sunday Prayer Services (Liturgy of the Word and weekly prayer sheets)
• Sunday and Special Feasts Scripture Commentary
• Sunday and Special Feasts Homily and Reflection
• Sunday Universal Prayer
• General prayer – traditional, prayers to our Lady and litanies.
• Sunday Prayer of the Church (Divine Office) from 29 March (morning and evening prayer)
Whatever challenges we face in the social and economic impact of COVID-19, including for some the significant loss of access to the rites of the Church, we are also presented with an opportunity to focus on the Word of God and pray as individuals, families and small groups with that Word.
The impact on our Parish – How can I help?
Without our weekly Sunday Mass being celebrated, the weekly income of our Parish and Clergy Fund will be significantly affected. The first collection at Mass is sent to our Maitland Clergy Fund and is devoted to the living costs of Priests in our Diocese. The second collection is used directly by our Parish to pay ongoing expenses – electricity, insurance, rates, wages, church consumables etc.
You are invited to ‘pitch-in’ as you can to the collections in the following ways:
• Weekly Planned Giving envelopes can be brought to the Parish Office and left in the locked letterbox if the office is unattended. It would be preferred if these were delivered during office hours.
• Cash contributions for either collection can be left at the office. Please place in an envelope clearly marked which collection it is to go to.
• You can elect to have a weekly, fortnightly or monthly amount deducted from your bank account on the form attached (2020 Planned Giving Form). Once completed the form can be left at the Parish Office.
• Cheques can be made payable to Singleton/Branxton Catholic Parish and left at the Parish Office or mailed to Unit 5, 16 Cambridge Street, Singleton.
• Donations can be made online via our Diocesan Parish Payments page: https://www.mn.catholic.org.au/places/parish-payments/

Please contact the office if you have any questions and during these uncertain times, may we continue to pray with and for each other as we find new ways to be supportive and kind.
Yours in Christ

Fr Thomas Chirackal, Parish Priest

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