Holy week in 2020 [posted 4th April 2020]

These are unique and challenging times in our parish, diocese, country and throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that our churches are closed with no congregational masses taking place. The country is in shut down; requesting us to go only as necessary. Last Sunday I watched Mass in the small chapel in the retirement flats attached to St John’s Church, Bath
celebrated by Canon Christopher Whitehead. The mass was solemnly conducted with an inspiring Homily. I have also managed to watch mass a few times during the week. Mass is celebrated each day at 10am. As a regular church attendee like I am sure most of you; it seems strange not attending Mass on a Sunday morning.

This week is Holy Week and it is unreal that we will not be holding Mass with the blessing of palms and procession into church; the readings and the reading of the Passion. I personally cannot remember the last time the I did not Mass on Palm Sunday.

We move then to Spy Wednesday and the annual trip to Clifton Cathedral for the Chrism Mass in which Bishop Declan Blesses the Oils to be used in our parish churches for the coming year. The priests present and the permanent Deacons renew the vows they made on the day of their ordination. I remember that in my previous parish where there was a convent in the parish the Religious Sisters renewed their vows on Maundy Thursday at the Mass of the Last Supper. I have attended the Chrism Mass for many years, first by my own steam, when I was amazed at the number of people there! Then by coach in this and my former parishes.

At the traditional time of 8pm (although the time has changed over the years to the Communion in Parish arrangement in many churches) on Maundy Thursday, the Mass of Lord’s Supper takes place. The washing of twelve men’s feet takes place, just as when Jesus washed the Disciples feet at the ‘Last Supper’. Although in times that we live in, women are also permitted to have their feet washed. After we have celebrated the Eucharist, the priest transfers the Most Blessed Sacrament to the Alter of Repose where we pray and watching until Midnight (although the ‘Watching’ can finish earlier than Midnight.

The ‘Walk of Witness’ takes place on Good Friday morning with the other local churches; in the afternoon, normally at 3pm we gather in the church for celebration of the Passion of the Lord. Followed by the Solemn Intercessions and the Veneration of the Cross. The Eucharist is not celebrated but the priest goes to the Altar of Repose to collect the Blessed Sacrament where it has been held since Maundy Thursday evening. After the Blessed Sacrament has been returned to the Tabernacle at the Altar of Repose. The priest says the Prayer over the People and we leave in silence.

We return to the church on Saturday evening for the third and final part of the Triduum ‘The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night’. It is a wonderful celebration with the great fire, blessing of water, the preparation of the new Paschal candle, flowers are returned after the church being bare during Lent. We enter the church in darkness apart from our lighted candles. The readings, music, the renewal of our Baptismal promises, the Exsultet, the prayers including the Litany of the Saints and the Celebration of the Eucharist can make the Vigil inspirational.

When we come to Mass on Easter Sunday morning for the Mass during the Day; this too can be wonderful. It starts the day off in a Celebration of the Resurrection again the mass is celebrated with great solemnity. The congregation renew their baptismal vows and are blessed with water that was blessed at the Easter Vigil.

Due to current circumstances we will not be taking part in the above; which along with yourselves, I find very strange! Fr Philip along with priests and bishops will continue to celebrate privately. Canon Chris at St Johns will be celebrating Palm Sunday, the Triduum and Easter Sunday which we are welcome to watch.
Please check St John’s Catholic Church, Bath website for the correct timings I am sure Clifton Cathedral will also be showing the services too.

As we stay in our homes this Holy Week with our private prayers and thoughts let us remember the Pope, bishops especially Bishop Declan, priests especially Fr Philip, deacons and religious. Let us pray too for each other, family, especially those we cannot be with and friends.
If you are visiting our website this Holy Week, thank you and we hope that we can welcome you when the Celebration of the Eucharist can take place again.

To everyone whether you are a parishioner or visitor, may this Holy Week inspire and sustain you and may the Celebration of the Easter Eucharist and Resurrection bring you New life and contentment.
May God Bless you and your loves ones; we hope that you stay safe and well too at this time.

Elaine Wright
Parish Administrator
4th April 2020

Cessation of Masses and other Services at St Peter’s Cirencester [posted 20th March 2020]

I am sure that you have been keeping up to date with all that is going on at present in our world today. Just to clarify that ‘The Bishops Conference of England and Wales’ have suspended public Sunday Mass, Weekday Mass and other services for the foreseeable future. Father Philip has said that he will continue to say Mass privately, when he will remember parishioners of both parishes. We too can remember each other in daily prayer when each of our personal prayers will unite with each other to make a powerful prayer in faith. As we pray for each other at this time, let us remember in prayer Fr Philip, Bishop Declan and all the clergy of the Diocese; Pope Francis and all Christians in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.
Today Fr Philip was feeling slightly better and celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Church for the last time until the health of ourselves and others improve which looks like at least three months at present (we all know that things can change). There was about ten of us including Father; at the end of Mass he offered up benediction for the Cotswold District which includes ourselves at St Michael’s as well as St Peter’s.
If anybody needs support and help, please contact me by email (I hope to check them daily).
There will be a daily mass recorded on the Diocesan website; please check for further details if you wish.
We have received notification from Churches together in England who have asked us to all join together by lighting a candle and putting it on a window sill to unite with each other and those of other faiths too.

Remembering each of us in prayer, stay well and stay safe
God Bless

Elaine Wright
Parish Administrator
20th March 2020

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St Peter’s Roman Catholic church is situated in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, the capital of the Cotswolds.  Our parish covers a wide area stretching from Northleach in the North, through Cirencester, to Somerford Keynes in the South and from Cherington in the West to Poulton in the East.

The aim of this web site is to help our parishioners and visitors see what is going on in our church.  You are encouraged to use this site as a central location to find and share information.

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