An Invitation to return to Mass at Pentecost

At the recent Spring Plenary in Cardiff, the Bishops of England and Wales made a resolution to invite the faithful to return to Mass at Pentecost.

This is the bread come down from heaven (John 6:58)

A beautiful hallmark of the Catholic faith is the profound desire to participate in the Holy Mass and share in the Eucharist. We do so with deep gratitude and joy. The Eucharist gives the Church her identity – “The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the Eucharist.” It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the greatest of all privileges, sometimes referred to as “the Sunday Obligation.”

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, until the present time, we have shared with you our judgment that the situation of the last two years has meant that the Sunday Obligation has been impeded and has needed to be fulfilled in other ways. We thank God that this situation has now changed. The pressing challenges of the pandemic have lessened significantly. Most people have resumed the wide range of normal activities, no longer restricted by the previous Covid measures. We therefore believe that the reasons which have prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no longer apply.

We understand there will still be some members of our congregations who, for reasons of health, do not feel safe enough to return to Mass. It has always been the understanding of the Church that when the freedom of any Catholic to attend Mass in person is impeded for a serious reason, because of situations such as ill health, care for the sick or legitimate fear, this is not a breach of the Sunday Obligation.

Our Catholic people and parishes have benefitted during these difficult times from the online streaming of Mass and other services. “Virtual viewing” of Mass online does not fulfil the Sunday Obligation. It may, however, be a source of continual spiritual comfort to those who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom the obligation does not apply. In this context, we recognise gratefully the ministry of those who administer Holy Communion to the elderly, sick and housebound.

We are grateful to our clergy, religious and lay faithful who have served our parishes, schools and communities with dedication and distinction throughout this pandemic. Now we look forward with renewed faith and confidence.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus entrusted to us the precious gift of Himself. With humility, we glory in being a Eucharistic people for whom attendance at Mass is essential. Looking forward to the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, we now invite all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.

As the Church needs the witness of the presence of each person, so too each believer needs to journey in faith and worship with their fellow disciples. Nourished by our encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, fed with His Word and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and supported by the presence of each other, we receive strength week by week, to serve the Lord and glorify Him with our lives.

Approved by the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference
Friday 6 May 2022



Letter From Archbishop John Wilson

Returning to Mass


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Grace and peace to you in the risen Lord Jesus.

We continue to live in challenging times. Our world is marked by the tragedy of war in Ukraine and other conflicts across the globe. We face the cost of living crisis and the impact of recovery from the pandemic which still significantly affects large numbers of people. Amid all of this, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord at Easter, his triumph over sin and death. We welcome the great celebration of the feast of Pentecost, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady and the apostles, impelling them to share the Good News of the resurrection. We too need this out-pouring of the Holy Spirit to strengthen our mission to share the Gospel.

I know that many of you felt joy and relief when we were able to return to our churches after the lockdown. We wanted to return to Mass, the source of our faith; to the place where we are spiritually restored and replenished. We recognize our need to receive the Lord Jesus sacramentally in the Eucharist, with each other, especially on Sundays, the Lord’s Day. Many, too, have expressed their sadness that, for various reasons, significant numbers of our fellow Catholics have yet return to Mass on Sundays. We know that a living relationship with the Lord Jesus is essential to our lives as disciples. He alone is able to provide what is needed for each of us, supremely so in the Mass.

This Pentecost, I invite you to carry out a simple mission: in the coming days, your parish will be supplied with a short letter of invitation from me, which I invite you to share with anyone you know who has not yet returned to Mass on Sunday. This could be family, friends or neighbours. Do not be afraid, or fearful of the response. All I ask you to do is to pass on this personal invitation so that those who have not yet come back might be encouraged to rediscover the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist; that they might rekindle their relationship with the community of the Church; that they might be reminded that they are missed, appreciated and loved. Take courage and please pass on the letters which are available to anyone you think might need a word of encouragement.

With my gratitude and every blessing .

Yours sincerely in Christ.

The Most Reverend John Wilson , Archbishop of Southwark