Lifting of Covid Restrictions – What it will mean for us at St Joseph’s:
On Monday 12th July, the Prime Minister outlined his plans for the lifting of Covid Restrictions in England as from 19th July. Whilst we welcome further progress in the fight against Covid-19 and a return to near normal, we have been advised by both the Government and the Bishops of England and Wales to continue to proceed with caution.
Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise all over the country, and particularly so here in Harrogate, and so in the coming weeks we shall proceed as follows:
The advance booking system for Mass will be suspended – please come to Mass without booking but check-in on arrival by either using the NHS Covid App and scan the QR code upon entry, or else one person from each family/group must leave their name and telephone number for the Track and Trace system.
A Steward will welcome you, and check your temperature as at present, and you should continue to use the hand sanitiser upon entering and again upon leaving the Church.
Whilst in Church, the Bishops request that face coverings still be worn, both as a safety measure against the spread of the virus and as a consideration to others attending Mass; we could possibly see the return of some of our more vulnerable parishioners, as well as higher numbers attending.
Once upstairs in Church please select a bench for you (or your group) to sit in – please remember to fill up from the end (and not the middle) of the bench, to allow for groups or individuals to fill up spaces as necessary. All benches will be re-opened.
Congregational singing during the Mass can resume, and so will now be re-instated at the 11.00am Sunday Morning Mass. Hymnbooks can be used, and then ‘quarantined’ between uses.
Livestreaming of Mass will continue as is at the present time, as the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will not be re-instated until Advent Sunday 2021.
The present ‘one-way’ system in Church shall be maintained, and Stewards will guide people to move forward to receive Holy Communion (or a blessing). Holy Communion will still be administered under just one kind (the Host).
We are encouraged by the Bishops to continue receiving Holy Communion onto the hand – but to receive the host on the tongue is permissible.
Please observe the directions of Stewards at Holy Communion and also at the end of Mass, to ensure safer movement around our Church.
The Church will be sanitised after each use, as it is presently, by our team of Stewards and to whom I am immensely grateful for their dedication and help over this past year…without their generosity, I would not have been able to open the Church for anyone to attend these past 12 months – Thank you all! If you would like to become part of our Stewards’ rota, please contact Elaine Flanagan or speak to any of the Stewards after Mass.
Please be aware that this is a dynamic assessment of the present situation, and may have to change again, in the future. Let us all work with and for each other in these coming weeks and months, and continue our prayers for all whose lives are being and have been affected by Covid-19.
Fr Stephen Webb PP
Please click on the link below to read the Bishops’ Statement about the re-introduction of the Sunday Obligation for Catholics to attend Mass
Congratulations to our Young People who received Holy Communion for the first time recently!
On Saturday 12th June, 36 young people attended one of three special First Holy Communion Masses with members of their family here at St Joseph’s. Bound by the current Covid-secure regulations we celebrated in style and some of the music for the Mass was pre-recorded by our Year 4 Children whilst in their “school bubble” so that each of the Masses could benefit from the sound of their voices!
Thank you to all who took part and made our celebrations so very special – and congratulations to our Young People on this next step in their journey of faith!
Your Giving to St Joseph’s
It is that time of the year when the Finance Team are preparing our annual accounts to be submitted to the diocese. This has given us the opportunity to reflect on the financial implications of the past year in our parish and beyond.
Firstly, a sincere “Thank you” to all our parishioners who have continued to support our parish over this past year. We have, like many other charities, seen our income greatly reduced over the past 12 months – this is of course because of the series of lockdowns and closures; there being fewer people being able to attend church; and the parish hall letting income being a fraction of what it had been in previous times. The overall reduction in income is close to £30,000 over the past 12 month period.
March is also the time of year when we make available the Weekly Offertory Envelopes – please do collect yours from the back of Church from this weekend. The Finance Team have prepared a letter to accompany these boxes, and also a letter for each parishioner updating us on our parish finances. If you are unable to collect your box from Church, we shall endeavour to deliver them to your home over the coming weeks. Thank you once more, for your generosity towards your parish. God bless you all.
Please click below for the letter to Parishioners from the Parish Finance Team
There are a number of ways to continue giving to Your Parish:
The first might be to consider setting up a Standing Order with your bank, please download the form below, or set it up using the following details via your own Internet Banking Service:
Account Name: Diocese of Leeds St Josephs Harrogate
Sort Code: 40-27-15 Account Number 11017500
(Please fill out this form if you are a UK Tax Payer and would like us to claim back the Gift Aid on your donations – at no extra cost to you. This part of the form would then need to be sent back to the Presbytery, address below)
The second way might be to use the new text service:
To contribute £5 to St Joseph’s Parish Offertory, please text CHURCH BILTON to 70500
**Please note that it is a feature of the text-giving facility that allows for no more and no less than £5 to be given to the Offertory via each text. If your regular weekly parish giving is either more or less than this amount, please feel free either to send more than one text – or maybe use this facility just once a fortnight or once a month.**
The third way is to send a cheque made payable to “St Joseph’s Church” to
St Joseph’s Presbytery,
281 Skipton Road,
Harrogate, HG1 3HD.
Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times, please be assured that I hold each one of you, your families and loved ones in my prayers and Masses each day.
Fr Stephen PP
The Church will be open for Private Prayer on Sunday Afternoon from 2.00pm until 4.00pm. To be notified of livestreams as they happen, please subscribe to the YouTube Channel. Please click below to go to our YouTube channel:
Let us keep each other in prayer, and pray also that these restrictions will bring about the desired result in reducing the present levels of Covid-19 infection and transmission throughout our region and country
Pope Francis Proclaims “Year of St Joseph”
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.
The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
A beloved, tender, obedient father
Saint Joseph, in fact, “concretely expressed his fatherhood” by making an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis, quoting his predecessor St Paul VI.
And because of his role at “the crossroads between the Old and New Testament,” St Joseph “has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people” (PC, 1). In him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God,” the one that helps us accept our weakness, because “it is through” and despite “our fears, our frailties, and our weakness” that most divine designs are realized. “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser,” emphasizes the Pontiff, and it is by encountering God’s mercy especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “experience His truth and tenderness,” – because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us” (2).
Joseph is also a father in obedience to God: with his ‘fiat’ he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.” Called by God to serve the mission of Jesus, he “cooperated… in the great mystery of Redemption,” as St John Paul II said, “and is truly a minister of salvation” (3).
Welcoming the will of God
At the same time, Joseph is “an accepting Father,” because he “accepted Mary unconditionally” — an important gesture even today, says Pope Francis, “in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident.” But the Bridegroom of Mary is also the one who, trusting in the Lord, accepts in his life even the events that he does not understand, “setting aside his own ideas” and reconciling himself with his own history.
Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts” — which does not mean that he is “resigned.” Instead, he is “courageously and firmly proactive,” because with “Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude,” and full of hope, he is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.” In practice, through St. Joseph, it is as if God were to repeat to us: “Do not be afraid!” because “faith gives meaning to every event, however happy or sad,” and makes us aware that “God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.” Joseph “did not look for shortcuts but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.” For this reason, “he encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak” (4).
A creatively courageous father, example of love
Patris corde highlights “the creative courage” of St. Joseph, which “emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties.” “The carpenter of Nazareth,” explains the Pope, was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his Family faced, problems faced by other families in the world, and especially those of migrants.
In this sense, St. Joseph is “the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.” As the guardian of Jesus and Mary, Joseph cannot “be other than the guardian of the Church,” of her motherhood, and of the Body of Christ. “Consequently, every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is ‘the child’ whom Joseph continues to protect.” From St Joseph, writes Pope Francis, “we must learn… to love the Church and the poor” (5).
A father who teaches the value, dignity and joy of work
“A carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family,” St Joseph also teaches us “the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.” This aspect of Joseph’s character provides Pope Francis the opportunity to launch an appeal in favour of work, which has become “a burning social issue” even in countries with a certain level of well-being. “there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron,” the Pope writes.
Work, he says, “is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion.” Those who work, he explains, “are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us.” Pope Francis encourages everyone “to rediscover the value, the importance and the necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.” Especially in light of rising unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope calls everyone to “review our priorities” and to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!” (6).
A father “in the shadows,” centred on Mary and Jesus
Taking a cue from The Shadow of the Father — a book by Polish writer Jan Dobraczyński — Pope Francis describes Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.”
“Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, children “often seem orphans, lacking fathers” who are able to introduce them “to life and reality.” Children, the Pope says, need fathers who will not try to dominate them, but instead raise them to be “capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities.”
This is the sense in which St Joseph is described as a “most chaste” father, which is the opposite of domineering possessiveness. Joseph, says Pope Francis, “knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.”
Happiness for Joseph involved a true gift of self: “In him, we never see frustration, but only trust,” writes Pope Francis. “His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” Joseph stands out, therefore, as an exemplary figure for our time, in a world that “needs fathers,” and not “tyrants”; a society that “rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”
True fathers, instead, “refuse to live the lives of their children for them,” and instead respect their freedom. In this sense, says Pope Francis, a father realizes that “he is most a father and an educator at the point when he becomes ‘useless,’ when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied.” Being a father, the Pope emphasizes, “has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a ‘sign’ pointing to a greater fatherhood”: that of the “heavenly Father” (7).
A daily prayer to St Joseph… and a challenge
In his letter, Pope Francis notes how, “Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds [Morning Prayer]” he has “recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.” This prayer, he says, expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph,” on account of its closing words: “My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.”
At the conclusion of his Letter, he adds another prayer to St Joseph, which he encourages all of us to pray together:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Source: Vatican News