Dear brothers and sisters,
Many of you may have seen that in the light of the very steep rise in infections across Lancashire, all three directors of public health for Lancashire, supported by their respective councils have issued a plea for all public worship to cease for the time being.
The cathedral and Lancaster Priory amongst others have already announced closure for public worship.
I have sought and obtained confirmation that although lower at the present time than many places in Lancashire, Blackpool infection rates are on a steep rise. I have also spoken to a trusted hospital chaplain friend who confirms in very graphic terms that the local hospitals are close to crisis point.
As we all know, our congregation includes many in a vulnerable category.
It is also true, that several of those who carry out important functions within our parish team, including me, are amongst those who should properly ‘stay at home.’
With a very very heavy heart therefore, and considering all of the above, I have decided that we need for now, to accede to this request and cease public worship from after the Friday mass today, 8 January.
We will keep the decision in regular review, but with the realistic expectation that the closure will probably continue for the same period as the general ‘lockdown.’ If there is a change in advice from government or from our bishops, then that advice will be taken into the decision making process.
St Stephen’s Church building will remain open for private prayer Monday to Friday 10.00 til dusk.
The mass and prayers will continue to be offered at their normal times (except Sunday will be a single mass at 9.00am). My ‘thought for the week’ and other regularly renewed prayer and devotional materials will continue To be made available.
Please pray hard, as I shall with and for you all.
With my love, and my tears too,