Friday, March 27, 2020


Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

I am so grateful for your kind responses to the email letter I sent out this time last week. Thank you for the assurance of your prayers, not just for me, but also for those of our parishioners who are affected by or connected with people who have contracted the Coronavirus, and also those who have been ‘self-isolating’ for some time on account of being in a high risk category. 

The measures I had put in place this time last week to maintain worship and prayer while rigorously safeguarding all around us from any further spread of the Coronavirus have been superseded by more recent communications from the Archbishops. As we are not able to celebrate Mass publicly, I had thought that opening the church on Sunday mornings for personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, with people coming and going as they are able - and keeping two metres between each other - was a loving and sensible provision. Many who managed to make it last Sunday have said how deeply moved they were by the Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament and our special experience of his love and blessing during that time. For those of you who were unable to come, here is how the sacramental presence of Jesus was honoured as we prayed:

We have since been instructed by the Archbishops to keep churches locked at all times, so as to prevent lay people and clergy alike from leaving home ‘unnecessarily’ in order to pray individually in the church building. I know how upsetting many of you have felt this to be, and - to be honest - that’s been my reaction, too.

However, as I emphasised in my letter last week, we are a Catholic parish, and the centre of our life, our worship and our prayer is Jesus in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

So, I have done the only thing left that can be done to ensure that the daily offering of the Lord’s great Sacrifice of love remains the fundamental reality from which everything else flows in the parish of All Saints’ Benhilton. Like so many other parish priests of Forward in Faith and The Society, I have established an oratory in the Vicarage, where I pray the Daily Office, and offer the Mass every day of the week at 7.30 a.m. (i.e. including Sundays). I will not be ‘inviting’ anyone to join me. 

However, during this emergency period I do ask you to pause at 7.30 a.m. each day, and ‘spiritually’ associate yourself with the parish’s Mass, appropriating by faith the blessings that are being supernaturally released into your life and into the lives of all for whom the Holy Sacrifice is offered to the Father.

This photo shows the altar set up for Mass in the Vicarage. (I’m sorry that the curtains are so overpowering in the photo - they’re OK in reality! The other thing is that the curtains are a long, safe distance from the candles . . . unlike the impression given in the photo!)

All who are on our intercession list will be prayed for each day at this altar. Please email me the names of others to be included, living and departed alike. Also, let me know when people’s names can come off the prayer list.

Last week I mentioned my blog at which will be updated daily from now on, with articles, prayers and scripture teaching to encourage your growth in Christ during these difficult days. I also pointed out the online  version of my book of prayers which can be accessed at:

I’m still not persuaded that I should try to make videos of myself saying Mass each day! Hopefully by this time next week I will be able to provide you with a list of reliable, orthodox, well produced, good quality and spiritually enriching daily Masses that you can choose from and easily access online.

Over the last fortnight, a number of parishioners have suggested a variety of social media ‘groups’ that we could utilise to keep in touch as a parish family, especially during this Coronavirus emergency. What a great idea!

I decided to use Facebook because I already know how to operate it. Also, it is easy for you to join and control your security settings. It doesn’t matter if the only Facebook activity you choose to involve yourself in is the All Saints’ Group.

The way I set it up last night, the All Saints’ Group is a TOTALLY PRIVATE GROUP. In other words, it is just for those who belong to our parish family. No-one can join the group without being approved by me. (Once it has been up and running for a while, I will choose another Moderator or two to help vet requests to join.)

To join the group, go to and log in (or join Facebook if you’re not already a member). Then, search for All Saints’ Church, Benhilton, Sutton, London

Please spread the news of this Facebook Group among your friends in the parish who might not be on our email list. (And don’t be shy about using the Group to share things that are encouraging and helpful!)

There are still parishioners - even some on the electoral roll - with email, but who haven’t yet given us their email address. Where possible, and as time permits, we will try to send this letter out to them in the ordinary mail, but it would be great for you to get the word out for them to send their email address to me in an email in which they give the “Vicar and Churchwardens” permission to use their email address “for the purpose of pastoral care and sharing parish news.” Under the data protection rules, we cannot use people’s email addresses without their permission.
I reiterate my words from last week. Please contact me if you need to; especially if you need the Sacraments of Anointing, Reconciliation, and/or Holy Communion.

And, if you are able to offer help to some who are shut-in, or those who are self-isolating (such as going to the shops for them), please let me know. Also, just as importantly, if you need such help, please ask!

In 1833, John Henry Newman, a 32-year-old priest of the Church of England, was touring the Mediterranean. He became seriously ill with a fever in Sicily, and was bedridden for a number of weeks. After his recovery, on the way to Marseille, his ship was delayed in the Strait of Bonifacio where he wrote these words. They reflect his faith journey, and I share them with you today, not just because I know how you love to sing them, but more importantly because they are the perfect words for us to pray at this difficult time:  

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, 
lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; 
lead thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou 
shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now 
lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long thy power hath blest me, 
sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, 
till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Go HERE for an inspiring rendition of this hymn 
from Arundel Cathedral

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

 Father David Chislett


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