Christmas will soon be upon us and I have to think of the best way to celebrate it with the present restrictions in force.

There are 21 full size pews, plus a short pew, at OLMSJ and I can usually fit approximately 120 people in for Mass. With Joseph’s Place open I can usually fit in quite a few more.

Those of you who have attended Sunday Mass will know, that under the present restrictions, I only have 10 full size pews & a short pew available and I can fit in approximately 21 people.

With 2m distancing in place I won’t be able to fit very many into Joseph’s place at all.

St Francis of Assisi has 22 pews. Under present restrictions they have 9 pews available.

St Anne’s has 15 pews and 3 short pews. Under present restrictions they have 7 pews and 3 short pews available.

So why are there so few places available?

All the restrictions which are in place have come from the government or the diocese and are in place to keep us all safe and COVID-19 free.

We must keep to 2 metre distancing.

This means not only 2metres in front, but also behind and to the sides. I also had to take into consideration taking Holy Communion to people in the Mass while maintaining the correct distance, etc.

As a result, each pew is restricted to 2 people, or up to 5 from the same household/bubble. (1 person to shorter pews, 2 if from the same family.)

In the past on Christmas Eve at OLMSJ we have had a very full Mass for the children at 5pm, followed by Carols at 7.30 pm and Mass at 8pm.

On Christmas day there is usually Mass at St Francis at 9 am, Mass at 10.30am at OLMSJ, one of which is celebrated by Fr Peter, and a 10am Mass at St Anne’s, celebrated by Fr David Quarmby.

This cannot happen this year.

Under present restrictions, if I had to fit everyone in who would normally attend those Christmas Masses, I would have to celebrate Mass approximately 30 times!

I am sure you will agree this would be impossible to do.

This year I am the only priest celebrating Mass.

I need to also point out that there will not be any Carols sung this year as singing is not yet allowed. We will use recorded music. Votive candles are not available.

There are a lot more restrictions in place than just social distancing. For example, we must have Stewards in place to ensure you safety.

I am pleased to say that Stewards are available, and I thank them for always giving their time so generously.

Stewards are not only present for Mass or private prayer, but for funerals, weddings and baptisms also.




Depending on what further restrictions may be introduced when lockdown finishes on 2nd December, I am proposing to celebrate Christmas Mass on:

Thursday Christmas Eve at 6pm at OLMSJ.

Friday Christmas Day 9am St Francis and 10.30am St Anne’s.

Sunday 27th December 9 am at St Francis, 10.30am at OLMSJ & 6pm St Anne’s.


How will we all fit in to the church with so few pews available?

The simple answer is you won’t.

I have thought long and hard about this and have decided the fairest way to determine who can attend Mass over Christmas is by ‘lottery’.


This is what to do if you wish to attend one of the Christmas Masses.

STEP 1: There will be 2 lotteries per church.

Select the church you normally attend.

Ring or email the parish office and ask to be entered for a seat at either/or:

OLMSJ Christmas Eve 6 pm &/OR 10.30amSunday 27th OLMSJ.

ST FRANCIS Christmas Day 9am &/OR 9 am Sunday 27th St Francis

ST ANNE Christmas Day 10.30am &/OR 6 pm Sunday 27th St Anne’s

STEP 2: You will be asked:

Are you are booking a place for:

yourself only


you and one other person from the same household/bubble- remember to state the names


a maximum of 5 people from the same household/bubble- remember to state all the names

You will also be asked for a contact number for Test & Trace.

STEP 3: All entries will be put ‘in a hat’ and we will continue drawing names until each church and Mass is full.

The closing date for contacting the office to be entered in the Lottery will be


Those who have a place will be notified on MONDAY 7th DECEMBER.

If you do not get a seat at either Mass remember you can join any live streaming of Mass.

All up to date information is on our website

I am so sorry it has to be done this way but the situation this year is unique.

Thank you for your understanding,

God bless,

Fr David