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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Chaplaincy FAQ

Following the latest guidance from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Church of England and the Muslim Council of Britain public worship on campus was suspended from the evening of Friday 20th March until further notice.

Nationally, places of worship were closed from 24th March until further notice.

We realise that this is an uncertain time and hope to answer your questions here.

What do you mean by Collective Prayer or Public Acts of Worship?

By this, we mean any formally arranged group prayer where people gather together to pray in person or where the prayer is advertised so that other people could come and join. This includes, but isn’t limited to Mass, Friday Prayers, Bible Study, Sister Circle, Encounter, Prayer Ministry, Stations of the Cross. If you have an event in mind and aren’t sure, contact the Chaplaincy.

I am a Catholic Christian. Is it sinful if I don’t go to Mass on Sunday?

Catholic Christians, in normal circumstances, are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days as far as possible, unless we have a serious reason which makes it unreasonable difficult or impossible – if for example we’re unwell. At this time, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have said that we are excused from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a serious reason. (See the Letter from the Bishops).

Instead of attending Mass, we’re asked to keep Sunday holy in other ways. Many churches are live streaming Mass (celebrated privately by a priest) online and we can participate by watching the stream and, following and praying the prayers. We can make an act of spiritual communion when we’re not able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We’ll be publishing resources and idea on our social media to help you do this.

What's going to happen at Easter?

We have not been able to celebrate the Triduum and Easter liturgies as usual.  Cardinal Vincent, in this video, has explained that the obligation of Catholic Christians to Easter duties to receive Holy Communion, often accompanied by a desire or need to go to Confession, is removed from us. We hope to offer some resources to help people enter into the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

Can I request a Mass or Prayer intention?

Although Public Masses are not possible, Fr. Peter and Fr. Rod will be offering Masses privately during this time. The Sisters and the team are also praying for our community at this time If you have a particular Mass or Prayer intention that you would like us to include, please email chaplaincy@stmarys.ac.uk. You can post a prayer intention on the St Mary's University Prayer Wall.

What about Confession?

At present the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not available. Cardinal Vincent in this video explains how we can make an Act of Perfect Contrition and be forgiven. Pope Francis also spoke recentlyto Catholics worldwide who cannot get to confession, encouraging them to go to God directly, be specific about their sins, request pardon and experience God’s loving forgiveness.

What about baptisms or funerals or weddings?

Guidance on the celebration of baptisms, funerals and weddings is available. Baptisms are deferred until further notice, except in cases of need. Marriages should also be deferred. Funeral Services may take place at the graveside or crematorium only, with a Memoria Mass celebrated when public worship resumes.

What about weddings at St Mary’s?

We have communicated with all the couples who had a wedding booked for 2020 who understand that weddings at St Mary’s will be deferred until Church buildings reopen.

What about Friday prayers?

The Muslim Council of Britain have called for a suspension of congregational activities – see their guidance. Many scholars advise that the obligation to celebrate Friday prayers is temporarily lifted at this time.

What about faith society gatherings?

As collective prayer and university events are suspended at present, none of our faith societies will be gathering in person on campus. This means that the CathSoc Encounter Prayer, the CU's Thursday Meeting and the ISoc Sister Circle, and any other gatherings will not be taking place.

I usually give to the Sunday collection. Is there a way I can still do this?

Thank you so much for your support. We are not expecting anyone to continue making contributions at this time. If you would like to continue, you can contribute to the collection by sending a cheque (payable to St Mary's University) to the Chaplaincy by post or by making a payment through online banking. Our bank details are:

  • Account name: St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • Name of Bank: HSBC
  • Sort Code: 40-05-20
  • Account Number: 10262080

Please email the chaplaincy@stmarys.ac.uk if you do this, so that we can track your contribution through the University system.

Are the Chapels and Prayer Room open?

Following the Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation on 23 March, the Chapels and Prayer Room on campus are closed until further notice.

Is the Chaplaincy Centre open?

The Chaplaincy Centre is not open, as University has asked that all staff who can work from home at this time.

I would like to speak to one of the team. How can I get in touch?

Please do email or phone the team:

You can also message us on our social media platforms.

How can I stay in touch with Chaplaincy and my faith community?

The Chaplaincy team are still here for you. Please do feel free to use to details above to contact individuals.

We are also active on our social media channels, with opportunities to share, pray and stay in touch. It’s also a good place to find out what virtual events and resources we are offering at this time.

Students are most welcome to join the Simmies Chaplaincy Facebook Group where we be available to have a chat and hosting some of our virtual events like Home Comfort Café.

Faith communities are responding to Covid-19 in a variety of ways and a good source of information on this is the Interfaith Network website. If you would like more in information about how to get in touch with a particular community of religion or belief do let us know.

What can I do to help at this time?

One of the main things we can all do is to connect and reach out to others online or by phone, especially those who may feel lonely or isolated. We can also share accurate information and advice. If you have further time you may like to look at one of these opportunities:

If you are considering volunteering it is very important that you follow the advice provided by the UK Government and do not take undue risks with your personal health.