Bishop Patrick has instructed priests who are aged seventy and over, and those who have a health condition which requires them to self-isolate, to stand down temporarily from external pastoral ministry.
These priests are still happy, eager even, to continue to support their parishioners by phone, but they may not leave their presbytery for pastoral ministry, nor admit visitors to their presbytery for pastoral ministry.
The remaining priests in each deanery have been tasked with taking on the ministry that the older and less healthy priests must put aside for now.
Locally, that means Fr Martin and Fr Daniel are between them ministering to people in parishes in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Tideswell, Charlesworth, Gamesley, Hadfield, Glossop, Marple Bridge and New Mills.
Experience from hospital ministry, and from other long term emergencies, shows that in a long term crisis anyone on call day 24 hours, seven days a week, non-stop, soon becomes too unwell to continue. As Bishop Patrick wrote to his clergy, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” So Fr Daniel and Fr Martin are taking turns at being the priest on call for 24 hours at a time.
To ring the duty priest, at any hour of day or night, please phone the special emergency number: 01457 620272. You will hear some information, then you can press a button on your phone to be connected automatically to whichever priest, Fr Daniel or Fr Martin, is the priest on call when you phone. Please be patient f you are phoning at night; it might take more than one call to wake up the priest on duty, so keep so keep trying until he answers.
Please pray for all our priests in this difficult time.
This information first appeared in the parish newsletter.
Later information: a more recent directive has told priests that they are to visit hospitals and care homes only in accordance with the policy of each establishment. We trust that they will not delay to call a priest when a patient or resident is dying. The directive also instructed priests that “Pastoral visits to provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and prayers for the dying [in their own home] should be restricted to those parishioners who are on end of life care at home.”