St. Michael's Catholic Church, Houghton-le-Spring

St. Michael's Church

Parish Priest: Fr Marc Lynden-Smith and Fr Bill O’Gorman (retired)  - Deacon: Richard McLaughlin

Welcome to our website

Welcome to our new Parish Priest 

This is an important week in the life of the Parish as we welcome our new Parish Priest, Fr Marc Lyden-Smith, who on Thursday takes up his duties as Parish Priest both here and at St Mary Magdalene Parish in Seaham Harbour. He will also be taking on other responsibilities. Fr Marc will also take on duties as the Bishop’s Advisor for Dialogue and Unity and also as Dean of the partnership of St Mary the Virgin.
This is a significant workload to be taking on, and Fr Marc will rely heavily on our prayerful support to meet the demands on him. While we should always pray for our priests, I would ask you to especially remember Fr Marc in your prayers as he comes to join us this week.

Mass Times
Fr Marc’s first Mass as our parish priest will be on Friday 2nd October at 10am and registrations for this Mass are now open and details on how to register are given below.
Fr Marc’s first Sunday Mass with us will be next Sunday 4th October and due to his other commitments and after much consideration and reflection this Mass and future Sunday Masses will be at 11am. Registrations for this Mass will open at 00.01 on Sunday 27th September. Details also below. 
Important Announcements 

St. Michael’s Church is now open for Mass.

Detailed below are plans and booking links for Masses and socially distanced private prayer opening times at St Michael's.

Increase in Church Capacity

We have been advised that, as we are all now obliged by law to wear face coverings while we are in church, we can now increase the numbers allowed into church by adopting the “one metre plus” rule. Initially this means that with immediate effect the congregation capacity can be increased to 47 (from the current limit of 32) for Mass but it is hoped that this can be increased still further when taking into account family groups sitting together. This is being reviewed along with the procedure for reserving a place.

Attendance at Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals Other Services

It is very important to note that the limits for attendance at these services are set by the latest government regulations and are irrespective of the changes mentioned above.

Baptisms can be held with a total of 30 persons in the church.
This number includes everyone attending the service including the celebrant, the child being baptised, the parents and 2 godparents. To be clear any babies and children invited to the service are included in this “absolute number” of 30.
Funerals including requiem Masses can be held with a total of 30 persons in the church.
This number includes everyone attending the service including the celebrant
Weddings can be held with a total of 15 persons in the church.
That number includes everyone attending the service including the couple, the celebrant,the registrar and specified witnesses. Again, any babies and children invited to the service are included in this “absolute number” of 15.

St Michael’s Church now re-open for Mass

Sunday Mass is now being celebrated again in St Michael’s church and Mass is also to be celebrated every Friday at 10am. We would also like to be able to offer Baptisms and Weddings in the near future.
It is only possible to have the church open at all because of the help of the volunteer stewards who give of their time to ensure rules of social distancing are observed before and during services, and then clean the church afterwards to keep it Covid safe. The introduction of restrictions locally clearly demonstrates how important this is for all of us. We should all be very grateful to the stewards. If you are able and willing to take part in this vital task to keep the church open please contact me on 07977 179 106 or by e-mail on Thank you, Richard.

As the obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues to be relaxed, if you are able to attend midweek Mass, you are encouraged to book for the weekday Mass to allow people who can only attend Sunday Mass to have a better opportunity to do so.

The numbers of people able to enter the Church for Mass are strictly limited. The wearing of masks is now legally required in church Mass and so the capacity allowed will now be according to the “one metre Plus” rule. Seating arrangements are clearly marked; however, once the capacity number is reached then no one else will be able to enter. The capacity for St Michael’s has been set at 50 (including celebrants and deacon). Please see below for details on how to book a place for Mass and this procedure will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

If you would like to attend any Mass, you must book a place by following the relevant link which will be published in these notices each week and also on the parish website. Each Mass/Service will have its own unique reference and so it is only possible to book for one Mass/service at a time.

Registrations will open one week before each Mass
It is necessary to book to comply with the government Track and Trace instructions and so we require all people attending Mass at St Michael’s to register their name and contact details. 

There are two ways to register:

  1. Online: Click on the link given in the bulletin below (or on the Parish website) for the Mass you would like to attend and complete the online registration. If the link doesn’t work immediately copy, and paste it to your address bar

  2. For those without internet access, (or with difficulty in using the links) a dedicated mobile phone (07881 528506 ) is available where reservations can be made after 9.30am on the day registrations open which will be one week before the Mass. (please do not use the parish office telephone number)

Masses available for booking this week

Links for Registration
Each Mass or service has its own unique link number which will be available one week before Mass. Registration for each Mass opens at midnight one week before the Mass and will close at midnight two days before the date of the Mass. (For example the Mass on Sunday 4th October will open for registration at 00:01 on Sunday 27th September and will close at 23:59 on Friday 2nd October)

This week:
Please remember an increased capacity is now available for these Masses and note the new time of Sunday Mass

Friday 2nd October 10am; on-line registration opened at 00.01 on 25th September and Telephone registration [07881 528506] from 9.30am on 25th September. If you were able to attend Mass on Friday 25th September, please delay applying for a place at the 2nd October Mass until Tuesday 29thSeptember so that more people will have the opportunity of attending a Mass during the coronavirus restrictions

Sunday 4th October at 11am: on-line registration opens at 00.01 on 27th September: Telephone registration [07881 528506] from 9.30am on 27th September. If you are able to attend Mass on Sunday 27th September, please delay applying for a place at the 4th October Mass until Wednesday 30th September so that more people will have the opportunity of attending a Mass during the coronavirus restrictions

This process allows us to produce a register for use by the stewards to record all those who attend the Mass. This register will enable us to provide the government Track and Trace team a list of contacts should someone in the congregation be diagnosed with Covid-19 subsequently.
Links for future Masses will be made available in the bulletin and on the parish website ( within two weeks of the Mass being celebrated.

Masses Elsewhere in Our Partnership

Mass will also be celebrated within Benedict Partnership at St John Boste, Washington and at St Joseph’s, Birtley and all are welcome to attend Mass in these churches.

The links and phone number to book a place at these Masses are given below. Please follow the link (or copy and paste it into your address bar) to reserve a place or phone 07562 653778 (please do not use the parish office telephone number).

Masses at St John Boste, Washington

Monday 28th September 10.00am
Wednesday 30th September. 7.00pm
Saturday 3rd October 10.00am
Sunday 4th October 10.00am.
Monday 5th October 10.00am
Wednesday 7th October 7.00pm
Saturday 10th October 10.00am.

St Joseph’s, Birtley

Tuesday 29th September 6.00pm
Thursday 1st October Noon
Saturday 3rd October 6.00pm
Tuesday 6th October. 6.00pm Thursday. 8th October Noon 

Live streaming may be in effect during Mass. If you do not wish to be at risk of being filmed, please inform your parish priest or designated person prior to visiting the church.

Opening Times for Private Prayer at St Michael’s 

St Michael’s Church is open for private prayer and reflection this week on Tuesday 29th September, the feast of our patron, from 10.30am -12,.30. The capacity for all churches will initially be low in order to allow for the required social distancing and our capacity will be 47 (including celebrants). Should the maximum capacity of the church be met, a queueing system will be implemented outside of the Church. Opening times will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and may be altered depending on demand.
Upon arrival at the church you will be welcomed by one of the volunteer stewards who will invite you to sanitise your hands. We will ask for your name and contact details which will be needed for tracking and tracing should this become necessary. This information will be destroyed after 21 days.
Another steward will guide you to one of the clearly marked seats at which you can spend some time in personal prayer. Please observe the current social distancing requirements while you are in the church. When you are ready to leave, please do so through the door at the front of the church, sanitise your hands near the exit door, and avoid congregating with others when you have left the church to ensure social distancing is observed by all and for the safety of all. Full compliance with Diocesan health and safety regulations and procedures will be required by clergy, employees and volunteers before a church is opened.

Please note: "Some people, including those aged 70 and over, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women, are clinically vulnerable, meaning they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. As we begin to ease restrictions, this group who are clinically vulnerable should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household.
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. They are advised to continue shielding to keep themselves safe by staying at home and avoiding gatherings or, if individuals wish to spend time outdoors, to take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping two metres apart at all times.

What can you expect when you attend Mass?

You will be required to wear a face covering. (Since 8th August it has been a legal requirement that all parishioners and visitors have been required to wear a face covering when attending Church). Please co-operate with the directions given by the stewards, who are volunteers, and are seeking to make everyone’s visit to the church as safe as possible and to enable it to remain open.
Mass will be shorter than usual with no singing.
There will be no Offertory procession, sign of peace, or children’s Liturgy
You will receive Holy Communion in the hand, which can only be distributed by the Celebrant.
Hand sanitisers are provided for you to use as you enter and leave the Church, and stewards will be on hand to guide you to your place The Offertory collection will not take place, containers will be available next to the doors for your offering. Please do not come to church if you are displaying any symptoms of the virus.

COVID-19 Situation

(Last updated 29.08.2020) -During the time of Gradual reopening of Lockdown

Please be aware that as a result of the current situation, and advice received from the Bishop’s Conference, Sunday and Friday Masses only, are now available at St. Michael's. Please note we have strict measures in place to keep parishioners safe which mean only a limited attendance.

Bishop Robert has recorded a Pastoral Message regarding the re-opening of our churches which can be seen on the Diocesan Website

St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle are continuing with live streaming Masses.
Normal Sunday Mass is at 11:30am and every Weekday Mass at 12.05 pm.
St. Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle YOUTUBE 

Pope Francis – Prayer to Mary for Protection during the COVID–19 Pandemic.
O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that,
as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test –
and deliver us from every danger,
O glorious and blessed Virgin 


Act of Spiritual Communion(To be said when one cannot receive communion in person) My Jesus, 
I believe that you are present in this Holy Sacrament of the altar. 
I love you above all things and I passionately desire to receive you into my soul. 
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come spiritually into my soul so that I may unite myself wholly to you now and forever. 

Our Parish Prayer
Father, pour out Your Spirit on the people of this Parish and grant us
a new vision of your Glory,
a new experience of your Power,
a new faithfulness to your Word
and a new consecration to your Service,
that your Love may grow among us and your Kingdom come, through Christ our Lord.

Prayer to St. Michael
Holy Michael Archangel, 
defend us in our conflict. 
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil;  
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray. 
And do thou Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, 
thrust down to hell, 
Satan and all the wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. 

Prayer for the End of the Virus

Almighty and merciful Father, who show your love to all your children. We come before you asking for a quick control of the Coronavirus currently ravaging our world. Hear graciously the prayers we make for those affected by the virus in various parts of the world. Grant healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead and consolation to the bereaved families. We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found. We pray for the relevant governments and health authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people. Look upon us in your mercy and forgive us our failings.


Our Partnership

A partnership is a group of parishes agreeing to work together to share resources, both human and material, to become stronger and better equipped for furthering the Kingdom of God. They offer our Diocese unlimited potential as we seek to ensure viable and flourishing communities of people who want to deepen their commitment to Jesus and witness to him in our world. 

St Michael's will become part of the Partnership of St Mary the Virgin, joining parishes in Seaham, Murton, Thornley, Peterlee, Horden and Hutton House, Blackhall.

Learn more

Regular Mass service times:

Weekend Masses


Sunday11.00am, see above to book

Prayer and reflection

Sacrament of Reconciliation: Suspended 

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament:

Private prayer and reflection only 

Tuesday: 10.30 am till 12.30pm



Use this handy map to find us or the details below to contact us for more information about our Parish.

St. Michael's Catholic Church
Durham Road
Tyne and Wear

+0191 5842142