Now that the Welsh Government has moved to Alert Level 2, the gradual reopening of churches for public worship is moving ahead, subject to the relevant COVID restrictions plus ongoing Health & Safety requirements. The Diocesan Architect and the Diocesan Health & Safety Co-ordinator are guiding us on the status of the various churches in Newport.
Since reopening, both St. Mary’s and St. David Lewis have been subject to rigorous Health and Safety measures including social distancing, regular deep cleansing, personal hygiene, a one way movement system and different means of entry and exit, the latter to ensure proper ventilation, remembering the virus is airborne. It is intended to gradually return to a fuller program of Mass and other services at St. Mary’s from the Feast of Corpus Christi—Sunday 6th June.
All of the churches will be subject to the same regulations above. They will be reopened on a phased basis for weekend Mass in a strategic manner, taking into consideration their location within the wider area and proximity to churches that are already open. On this basis on the dates below are subject to them meeting the necessary requirements:
St. Julius the Martyr—Sunday 13th June 2021
St. David’s—Sunday 27th June 2021
St. Michael’s—Sunday 11th July 2021
St. Anne’s—Sunday 11th July 2021
Unfortunately given the size and layout of the churches at both Caerleon and Rogerstone it is currently not possible to set reopen dates until there are further changes in the safety requirements surrounding Covid-19.
In addition to the requirements above, all the churches will require their statutory requirements and Covid-specific assessments on Safety Toolbox to be up to date to ensure the buildings are compliant with legislation. Regular updates on all of the churches will be given through this page
St. Gabriel’s church—Archbishop George has asked the following announcement to be made to the parish:
Following assessments by the Diocesan Architect and external companies, St. Gabriel’s church does not conform to Health and Safety regulations and constitutes a major health hazard. In addition to structural issues, there is a vermin infestation in the roof which is a major health hazard. Timber gutterings have rotted, the gas supply is causing another hazard and a new boiler is also required. The flat roofs are in a state of serious concern. St. Gabriel’s will not be reopening for the foreseeable future. Discussions are currently taking place for the future of Mass provision on the Ringland Estate. I have asked Fr. Michael to keep you informed as the discussions progress.
Message from Fr. Michael:
Over the last 14 months regular monitoring visits have been made to each church in Newport by Diocesan officials to ensure conformity with health and safety laws. This has been in anticipation of the phased re-opening of churches.
As Catholics we love the Church and often feel that our church buildings are a second home for us. We show that in the loving care and dedication we take to clean and maintain them. The fact that St. Gabriel’s cannot re-open because of health and safety concerns is a matter of regret, but essential in the present climate. Over many years volunteers have worked tirelessly to maintain the fabric of the building.
Covid-19 and lockdown have inevitably revealed to us the extent of the infestation at St. Gabriel’s. Within the first few weeks evidence of debris contained in the roof space was coming through on to the floor. It has been confirmed that the age long issue the church has faced has not only been squirrels but also rats.
The Archbishop has asked us to explore the options for Mass provision on the Ringland Estate. We are currently working with St. Gabriel’s Primary School to see what could be feasible in using the hall as a Mass centre. In the meantime we need to take this situation to prayer and ask the Lord to come to our aid. We will, of course, continue to provide Pastoral Provision on the Ringland Estate and will be joined in that work by Sr. Collette Bamber. Sr. Collette is a Sister of St Joseph of Annecy whom Fr Michael has worked with in the past. She will join us in the Autumn having spent the past 13 years working in London. We look forward to welcoming her.