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Norwich cathedral dean welcomes back public Masses

The Dean of St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich, Canon David Paul, has welcomed the return to collective worship and public Mass from this weekend and said we should thank God for it.

Speaking to Radio Maria England, based in Cambridge, Canon Paul said: “This has been an awful time for many people in our country – when we think of all of the people who have died and their families. But we also remember the heroic work in the hospitals which we thank God for.

“But this is still serious and we need to take great care, but let’s always put our trust in God and the Lord will always look after His Church and care for us.

“These signs of opening up and being able to celebrate Mass are wonderful gifts to us, so I would urge people to thank God for us and to look forward to that time when we can be back together again properly,” said Canon Paul.

He was speaking to the Priest Director of Radio Maria England, Rev Dr Sam Randall, who also asked the Dean about practical arrangements.

Fr Sam: Should I arrange to go to confession before returning to Mass on Sunday?

Fr David Paul: If you’re conscious of grave sin you ought to go to confession. But sometimes it’s not possible, and in these circumstances the Holy Father says confess to God.

Fr Sam: Will Holy Water be available?

Fr David Paul: No, it won’t, because the water can be a reservoir for the virus. When you enter the church, you should sanitise your hands, and there will be hand gel available.

Fr Sam: Should I wear a mask or gloves?

Fr David Paul: That is up to you personally.

Fr Sam: Am I right in thinking I won’t need a hymn book?

Fr David Paul: Yes – there will be no singing. The regulations say there may be a cantor, but there will be no congregational singing at all.

Fr Sam: What will the rubric be about sitting on pews?

Fr David Paul: The rule is that you must be 2m apart, unless you are a family group. If that is impossible, you can be 1m apart, but you must wear a mask.

Fr Sam: Are the pews going to be marked?

Fr David Paul: They will be marked. We’ve got a system of ticks and crosses.

Fr Sam: If I want to donate, are there special arrangements?

Fr David Paul: There will be buckets at the back, and we also have contactless giving.

Fr Sam: Are there rubrics about administering communion?

Fr David Paul: Yes, it will be in one kind only – the Body of the Lord. The priest will drop the host onto your hand.

Mass will be celebrated at St John’s Cathedral at the following times:

Sunday: 9am, 11am and 5.30pm, with a Latin Mass at 3pm on the first Sunday of the month
Saturday: 10am, 4pm (Polish) and 6pm
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 7.30am and 10am
Tuesday and Thursday: 10am and 7pm

To listen to the full recording of the interview with Canon David Paul please click this link:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols welcomed the return to collective worship in a video produced for the occasion. You can watch it on:

Guidance on the re-opening of churches can be found on the Bishops’ Conference website at: