Statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines issued March 16, 2020:
The situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus is fluid and changing on a daily basis. Please continue to pray for those affected and for our healthcare workers and facilities. We have yet to see the full onslaught of the disease and the full impact on our people. Effective immediately, the following Pastoral Practices in the Diocese of St. Catharines are in effect.
Sunday Liturgies, Chrism Mass and Holy Week:
Out of an abundance of caution, all Sunday Masses are cancelled immediately until April 18th, 2020. Bishop Bergie grants all the faithful a dispensation from their Sunday obligation.
Holy Week Liturgies are cancelled.
The Chrism Mass, scheduled for April 7, 2020 is cancelled.
Arrangements are being made to live stream one Sunday Mass from the Cathedral. Liturgies for Holy Week will also be live streamed from the Cathedral. Further information will be forthcoming.
All non-essential parish meetings, outside groups, educational seminars and social events are cancelled until further notice.
The celebration of daily Mass is permitted until further notice with the following stipulations: persons attending shall sit a minimum of two (2) metres apart front to rear and side to side. Those persons over the age of 60 and/or those with underlying medical conditions should remain at home.
The setting of dates for new marriage celebrations is postponed until further notice.
Marriages already scheduled may take place but are limited to immediate family only: parents, siblings, Best Man and Maid of Honour and one other attendant each. No more than Fifty (50) persons in total are permitted to attend, sitting a minimum of two (2) metres apart from front to back and side to side. Those with underlying medical conditions should remain at home.
The celebration of Baptisms shall be postponed until further notice unless the child or person is in danger of death.
Sacrament of Reconciliation:
The Sacrament of Reconciliation may continue with the following changes. Priests should wear an N-95 mask or other approved mask to prevent the transmission of the virus and/or remain a minimum of two (2) metres away from the penitent. Where possible a secure and sanitary cover may be placed over the confessional screen.
Funerals may continue to be celebrated but attendance at funeral Masses shall be limited to immediate family of the deceased, or no more than fifty (50) persons sitting a minimum of two (2) metres apart front to back and side to side. Priests should travel in their own car to the place of committal. Those persons with underlying conditions should remain at home.
All confirmations scheduled up to and including April 18, 2020 have been rescheduled. Dates for confirmations after April 18 may need to be rescheduled as circumstances dictate.
We will continue to monitor the situation, and be attentive to the direction and advice of our public health officials. If further measures are required or recommended, we will communicate this to our parishes and post the information on the diocesan website http://www.saintcd.com.
In its email to parishioners, my parish, St. Kevin, added these updates specific to it:
All social groups (Senior Cards, Bridge Club) are cancelled until further notice.
Pasta Take-Out for March 24th has been cancelled.
Our Lenten Bible Study (How Not to Read the Bible) has been cancelled. We will consider resuming this at a future date.
All evening Lenten Masses and Stations of the Cross have been cancelled.
All Mass Intentions booked will be honoured and said by our Priests.
Parish Ministries (CWL, Holy Name, St. Vincent de Paul, Choir, Ladies Bible, Bereavement, Secular Franciscans) will not meet during this time period. Future meeting dates will be considered.
Our IGNITE evening scheduled for March 28th has been cancelled.
RCIA and RCIC sessions have been cancelled for the time indicated above. The reception of the Sacraments of Initiation for those catechumens and candidates will be rescheduled to a further date not yet determined.
First Communion Class Celebrations will be rescheduled to a further date not yet determined.
Harvest Kitchen will continue for the last two Wednesdays (March 18th and 25th) take-out only.
The operation of our Food Pantry will be assessed and further information will follow.
The Parish Team will consider modified office hours. Additional information will also follow.