Latest Parish Updates

Public Celebrations of Mass and Services in church

Update from Fr Chris

Following the announcement earlier this week that from the 4th of July churches are allowed to have public celebrations again we are now looking at the guidance from the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and our own Diocese to find the best way forward. At this stage I want to make it clear that there is no obligation to come to church; people who are in any way concerned or vulnerable should not even think about coming and live streaming will continue now and be part of parish life from now on. We will take time as a parish to plan properly so I am not in a position at this time to give more details or a starting date. Please make this a special intention in your prayers that we do the right thing in the best way possible.

Fr Chris

Church Opening Times –Individual Private Prayer Only

St Thomas of Canterbury church will re-open for private prayer for the following limited periods:

Saturday 27th June 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Tuesday  30th 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Thursday  2nd July 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Saturday  4th July 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Faith Walk up Winter Hill

From Tuesday this week (30th June) join Fr Chris on a Faith Walk up Winter Hill. There is no need for hiking boots though as this is a virtual faith walk and you can join Fr Chris via the Parish You Tube channel. There will be a new video each day from Tuesday to Friday.

Statements from Cardinal Nichols and Bishop John

Cardinal’s statement on resumption of collective acts of worship

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales said:

I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister earlier today, that places of worship are now able to resume collective acts of worship from 4 July. This is welcome news for members of all religions in England. I thank all who have worked hard to bring this about, not least my fellow religious leaders.

As Catholics we now look forward to being able to celebrate Mass together again from 4 July. We have waited with patience and longing for this moment, understanding the importance of protecting the health of people in our society. Now we are full of anticipation that we will be able again to take part together in the Eucharist, which lies at the centre of our faith.

It is important that we continue to abide by the guidance, given by the Government, on appropriate social distancing and the other measures to avoid all unnecessary risk. Our own detailed guidance will be distributed around dioceses and parishes so everyone can be confident that they may come to Mass securely and understand the part they are to play in protecting each other from any remaining risk of infection.

The past few months have been a time of fashioning new patterns of prayer, new ways of exploring and enriching our faith and vigorous ways of reaching out to those in need. We can build on these, forgetting nothing of the graces we have been given. Yet now, with the experience of opening our churches for individual prayer already gained, this return to the more normal patterns of worship will be of great importance to all Catholics.

This time of our ‘Eucharistic fast’ has made our hearts grow in longing for that moment when we can come together and receive again the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. That moment is now very near and for that we thank God.

Response from Bishop John:

We welcome the news that we can once again start to gather for public worship. I know that this will be news received with great joy by my fellow brothers and parishioners.

We await the guidelines from the Bishops Conference to see what this will mean practically for us. There will still be a need to continue with some restrictions and our worship may feel a little different.  It may also be that not all our churches can open and that there is a reduction in the number of services.

We will issue more information to parishes as we receive it and will provide support to assist parishes as we approach the 4th July.

These are unprecedented times and we must recognise that this is the next step in the journey we are on together back to normality, however that may look.


Update from Fr Chris on Individual Prayer at St Thomas of Canterbury


Please watch this video and follow the guidelines below when visiting church for private prayer.


  • Please do not come to the church if
  • You or someone you live with is suffering from or starting to show symptoms of COVID-19 or you have been advised to self-isolate because you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Please do not come if you have been advised to remain shielded, you are clinically vulnerable or have cold or flu-like symptoms
  • The toilets will remain closed
  • The church is open for private prayer only; the recitation of communal prayers with others is not allowed
  • Volunteer wardens will be present at all times to ensure that social distancing is observed, please follow their instructions
  • Hand sanitiser will be available; please use it on entry and exit
  • If you wish to wear a face covering or mask, please bring your own
  • Access will be permitted only to the section (s) of the church being used for prayer; this will be clearly identified
  • Please follow the guidance of the wardens with regard to where you may kneel or sit; also with regard to the direction of movement within the church
  • Family groups may kneel or sit together, provided that social distancing with others is strictly observed
  • Parents or guardians are responsible for children; unaccompanied children will not be admitted

Are You Able to Help?

Thanks to all those who have volunteered to help to bring our churches back in to use. This requires a great deal of preparation and considerable ongoing commitment with regard to stewarding and church cleaning. The return to the celebration of Mass will increase the need for volunteers across a range of activities, especially at weekends. If you think you will be able to help, please submit your contact details to the Parish Office.

St Joseph’s

  1. Use for Prayer

The Diocese is exercising firm control over the opening of churches. The aim remains to offer an opportunity for private prayer at St Joseph’s church as soon as circumstances permit.

  1. The Hall, Land and Presbytery

Negotiations for the possible sale of the hall, land and presbytery at the St Joseph’s site have been ongoing despite the lockdown. It seems likely that firm news on this will become available within the next month. Full information will be shared as soon as possible.

  1. Repairs and Redecoration

Arrangements have been made for necessary repairs to the roof to be carried out while the church remains closed. Some redecoration of the eastern aisle wall is also to be undertaken to improve the environment for worship.

Offertory Collection

Although income is significantly down due to the lack of the weekly offertory collection, expenditure on the maintenance of the parish remains much the same. The Parish recognises that many individuals and families will also have been financially affected by the present situation and may not be able to continue contributing or may need to reduce their normal contribution. However, if you are in a position to do so, you may wish to consider one of the following options:

  1. Set up a standing order to the Parish (electronic payments).

If you wish to use this option, which is already used by a number of people in the parish, please contact the parish office by e-mail  at  giving your name and contact telephone number. You have the option to make regular monthly or one-off payments.

  1. Set aside at home your weekly donation.

Each week, perhaps after you have celebrated Holy Mass via the streamed service, you could put aside your donation. Once you are able to return to church, you can donate the accumulated money. If you routinely use the offertory envelopes, essential for gift aid donations, then please place the money in your envelopes. When you are able to return, you can pick up your envelopes for the year starting April in the church porches.

Thank you for your continuing financial support to our parish.

Thank you Card for Key Workers

Please follow the link below to download  a Thank you Card for Key Workers from Fr Chris. Please share this with someone you know who deserves our thanks!

Thank you card



The Mercy Brothers Garden Lockdown Concert

Join four members of the legendary Mercy Brothers in a socially distanced concert from the garden. Fr Chris is joined by Fr Nick, Fr Mark and Fr Joe for three numbers from their garden set. Sit Down!

Joshua and Woolly Sing an Action Song!

For our younger (and not so young) members of the Parish, join Joshua, Woolly and Fr Chris as they sing an Action song!



An Adventure with God – The Camino – Part Three The Journey

Fr Chris first stepped onto the Camino in 2012 and completed his journey on foot to Santiago de Compostela in 2016, 3,000 km later.

Here Fr Chris shares his diaries from his spiritual journey along the Camino. Please follow this link to download the first installment of Fr Chris’s book:

An Adventure with God – The Camino

Continue with Fr Chris on his Adventure with God and read the second installment of his book. Please follow this link to download the second installment:

An Adventure with God – The Camino – Part 2 – Leaving Home

Here is the third installment of Fr Chris’s book. Follow this link and join him on his journey.

An Adventure with God – Part 3 –  The Journey

Here is the third installment of Fr Chris’s book. Follow this link and join him on his journey.

An Adventure with God – Part 4 – The Journey


The Camino Lockdown Challenge

Why not take part in the Parish Camino Lockdown Challenge? You can join the St Cuthbert’s Team on Strava and record your progress and see who is top of the Parish Leaderboard on The Camino Lockdown Challenge. Please follow this link to register and join in.

Caritas – The Big Sleep In – Friday 10th July

In recent years, many parishioners have supported the Cornerstone Big Sleep Out to raise awareness and funds for homelessness projects. This year, due to the pandemic, we have had to find an alternative event and have come up with THE BIG SLEEP IN. To take part, all you have to do is stay put and sleep in your own home for the night but somewhere other than in your comfortable bed! This could be on the floor, on the sofa, under the stairs or somewhere else indoors—as long as it is safe and complies with the current government guidelines for social distancing and protecting yourselves and others from coronavirus. This is an awareness-raising and fundraising event. Any money raised from The Big Sleep In will contribute towards projects to help the homeless and most vulnerable at Cornerstone. 

For more information and to register, go to
To donate please Text BIGSLEEPIN and the amount to 70085.

‘Elegy’ for the Covid 19 victims and in support of all frontline workers

Stephen J Woods piano teacher and composer (also former parishioner) has written an ‘Elegy’ which you can see following the links below. He has composed and played the music  to help three charities  (Cafod, Salvation Army & Unicef) and their current Covid appeals. To see and hear the music follow the You Tube links: (Scenic video) (Solo performance)

If you like the music and would like to donate;  full details about the Elegy and the offer are on the  website:

In a nutshell, pay £3.95 + £0.99p (or more) to one of the above charities; forward him your confirmation e-mail from the charity and then you will receive the sheet music and recording of Elegy:2020 from him completely free of charge!


CAFOD works in countries with limited healthcare systems, where people do not have access to clean drinking water or reliable food supplies and where social distancing is pretty much impossible.  Because of this, the communities CAFOD works with are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.  Please would you visit the CAFOD website at and consider making a donation, including Gift Aid where appropriate, and sign their petition urging our government not to forget these nations who are part of the global Christian family and far worse off than the UK.


Coffee Morning

Every Thursday at 10.30am (after mass) there is a virtual Coffee Morning hosted by Anne-Marie on Zoom. If you would like to take part then please email Anne-Marie and she will send you an invitation and link to join.