Saturday, March 21, 2020


Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

I write this letter to you on S. Joseph’s Day, the second anniversary of my becoming your parish priest, and I sincerely give God thanks for every one of you. Your faith and devotion, your loving support for one another, your care for the things of God, and your kindness to me, have been so real. Furthermore, in our short time together we have had the joy of seeing new people become part of our fellowship at the altar of God.

It is unfortunate that on this day I have to share with you special measures we as a parish must put into place in response to the coronavirus outbreak, following advice from both the Government and the Church of England. But your safety and your peace of mind is important to the Churchwardens and to me, as is our determination not to do anything that could aid and abet the spread of the virus.

We are a Catholic parish, and as such the centre of our worship and life is the Mass, the great Sacrifice of Jesus that unites heaven and earth, in which we actually receive Jesus himself, the Lamb of God and the Lord of glory, in Holy Communion. It is desperately sad that of necessity public Masses are suspended from this coming Sunday (22nd March). However, I want you to be assured that the centre of our prayer as a parish community will continue to be Jesus, lovingly present to us in the Blessed Sacrament. I share with you the arrangements that will come into being from Sunday, and pertain until further notice:

I will celebrate a ‘private Mass’ at 8.00 a.m. each Sunday with only the Churchwardens in attendance. It will be offered for all the people of the parish, for all on our intercession list, and for others, living and departed, for whom you ask us to pray. Week by week, please continue to let us have the names of those for whom you wish the Mass to be offered.

The church will be opened for personal, private prayer each Sunday from 8.30 a.m. until 12.00 midday.  I encourage you, as well as others from the neighbourhood, to visit All Saints’ for a time of prayer during that period each Sunday. You will be able to light candles and pray at the shrines. You will be able to stay for as little or as long a time as you wish. To this end our cleaning team is ensuring that all surfaces in the church that are easily touched are regularly disinfected and cleaned. Each week there will be a different pew bulletin available to use and then to take home containing Scripture readings, set prayers and spiritual teaching.

The focus of our devotion on these Sunday mornings will be Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, placed in a monstrance on the nave altar surrounded by candles and flowers. This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, and I know that the very best way to observe it during the current medical emergency will be to come in family groups for a short time of prayer and thanksgiving at All Saints’, not forgetting to light a candle at the Shrine of Our Lady, the mother of Jesus and our mother, too.

One last thing about these Sunday mornings. When you spend time before the Lord in this special way, do come with love and expectancy in your heart. For from the miracle of his sacred presence in the Blessed Sacrament, enthroned on the altar, cascade wave upon wave of healing love to touch your life and to give you his blessing. 

Just last Sunday during my address to the APCM I said that the most important - and really, the only indispensable - thing I do every day, is to go to the altar of God and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Reflecting this priority for the parish community, although public Masses will not be held, a ‘private Mass’ will be offered from Monday to Saturday at 7.30 a.m. Two people will be invited for each day. If you would like to be invited, please send me an email or write me a note. It is also important to let me know of any prayer requests for a particular day.

Since 2008 I have written a blog. It is at and contains many teaching articles following the themes of the Church Year, as well as general insights to help in our discipleship of Jesus. I will be using this blog to share with friends and parishioners.

Ten years ago I published a book of prayers in traditional language for Anglicans of the Catholic Tradition. I then created an online version which can be accessed here:
It is a veritable treasure trove of devotion that many of you might find helpful.

You will be relieved to know that I do not intend to use my iPhone to make amateurish videos of myself saying Mass each day! But I will in due course provide you with a list of reliable, well produced, good quality and spiritually enriching daily Masses streamed on the internet that you might find helpful.

As your parish priest I am committed to ensuring that you have access to the sacramental and pastoral ministry of the Church. I am supported in this commitment by the lay ministers of the parish. I do understand that those who are self-isolating face particular challenges, and  that in order not only to keep safe but also to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, special care must be taken with personal hygiene. To this end, the priest’s hands will always be washed thoroughly, immediately before and immediately after any sacramental ministry.

A range of people regularly receive our e-pew-bulletin. If you would like to be put on that email distribution list, please send me an email and ask!

Likewise, please get in touch with me if you wish a pastoral visit and/or to receive the Blessed  Sacrament.

Other aspects of the pastoral ministry such as funerals and weddings need to be considered with respect to the possible size of the congregation, and therefore the risks thought to be involved. There may well be a further development in the legal situation with regard to these celebrations. 

Finally, there will be opportunities within our parish family for help to be offered to some who are shut-in, or those who are self-isolating. This help might well be as simple a task as going to the shops for them. Please let me know if you can manage to give this kind of help, or if you need it.

It is difficult to predict how things will transpire in this evolving and challenging situation. But you can be confident that as instructed by the Diocese, the Churchwardens and I have put together a ‘Parish Continuation Plan’ that - as far as possible - helps us to be ready for whatever happens.  Above all, as Bishop Jonathan Baker has reminded us, we must be anchored in our confidence that God is with us. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Father David Chislett


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