COVID-19 Updates

August 25, 2021

Restart Step 3 GENERAL AND LITURGICAL DIRECTIVES for Churches during Covid-19, to be followed by all Parishes in the Diocese of Victoria

1. DISPENSATION FROM THE OBLIGATION to attend Sunday Mass:

Parishioners in the Diocese of Victoria remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass at a church. The life of prayer, scripture reading, and remote participation in the live streaming liturgy are indispensable for keeping our faith nourished during the pandemic when health and safety concerns prevent some from going to church.

2. CHARITY, care and concern for others:

All those attending Mass do so at their own risk and must take responsibility for protecting themselves and others. As an act of supreme charity, the following people must also stay home for the sake of others in the community:

a. People with Covid-19, or those who live with someone with Covid-19.

b. People who have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 and are waiting for test results.

c. The sick, including those with ANY symptoms or feelings of sickness, especially if they have a fever, upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms.

d. Those who have recently travelled outside of Canada, or who have arrived from places in Canada that are experiencing significant Covid-19 outbreaks.

The following people are encouraged to stay home:

a. People who live with someone with upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms.

b. People, especially the elderly (over 65 years of age) with underlying or comprised medical conditions.

c. Family members who live with elderly people or those at risk

3. FACE COVERINGS:

We strongly recommend that face coverings be worn by all people born in 2009 or earlier during worship services. For all other uses of church buildings (parish social events, meetings of church groups, hall bookings, etc), in accordance with provincial guidance, face coverings must be worn.

A face covering is defined as a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth. Face shields are not a substitute for a mask, as there is an opening below the mouth. As described on the government’s website (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restrictions), there are a number of conditions under which a person is not required to wear a face covering. These exceptions must be respected, and compassion, good judgement, and pastoral sensitivity are encouraged.

4. ENTRANCES AND EXITS

Churches should continue to provide hand sanitizer at all entrances to the church. Holy Water and Baptismal fonts are to remain empty.

5. MEETINGS, EVENTS AND RECEPTIONS

Church and Hall Rentals, parish meetings, education programs, wedding and funeral receptions, and other social gatherings (outside of the Mass) are now permitted, as long as all regulations of the provincial mask mandate and the latest “Gatherings and Events Provincial Health Order” are followed: 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-order-gatherings-events.pdf

CELEBRATION OF THE MASS:

6. USHERS AND GREETERS:

Priests may decide if they wish ushers and greeters to wear face coverings while carrying out their ministries.

7. ROLE OF THE DEACON:

Provided the deacon is healthy and comfortable to exercise his diaconal role at Mass, he may function as a Deacon of the Word and of the Eucharist. For Communion, if the deacon receives from the Chalice, a second chalice is to be used, and the deacon must purify his own chalice, and not the celebrant’s chalice.

8. OFFERTORY PROCESSION:

Gifts are to be prepared ahead of time, and the Hosts, water and wine must remain covered both before and during the procession. Parishioners are not to put their hosts into a ciborium directly. While a collection may be taken in whatever methods were used before the pandemic, parishes are encouraged to consider safer alternatives, such as providing a place for people to make their offering when they enter the church, and/or promoting the option of online/remote donations (PAD, credit card, e-transfer, etc.)

9. COMMUNION HOSTS FOR THE ASSEMBLY:

When placed upon the altar for the consecration, Communion Hosts should remain covered and be placed at some distance from the celebrant so that there is no danger of him breathing upon them. The priest is not to share his Host with anyone.

10. REFRAIN FROM BREATHING UPON THE BREAD AND THE WINE:

If this is their custom, priests are to refrain from breathing over the bread and wine for the consecration.

11. KISS OF PEACE:

Physical distancing must be respected and parishioners are to be reminded not to shake hands or hug each other, unless they are sitting together as a family unit. Continuing the sign of peace with a gesture, such as bowing, is recommended.

12. COMMUNION:

Communion from the chalice or on the tongue continues to be problematic in terms of transmission of disease. For the foreseeable future, until the pandemic is truly over, Communion in this diocese will continue to be distributed on the hand only. We are grateful for your patience and understanding if these are your preferred ways of receiving Holy Communion, and look forward to returning to these practices when it is safe to do so.

All people distributing communion are to to apply hand sanitizer after receiving their own Communion and prior to distributing to others. Hand sanitizer is to be reapplied at the end of the distribution of Communion, and at any time if the fingers of the minister touch the hand of a communicant.

All people distributing Communion must either stand behind a clear Plexiglas screen or wear a face covering.

13. RECEIVING COMMUNION if a person cannot extend their hands:

A person with physical challenges or disabilities might not be able to extend their hands and therefore common sense and pastoral discretion is required.

SACRAMENTS:

14. SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:

During the ritual, it is occasionally necessary to approach the child / family, and at these times the Celebrant must wear a face covering. This applies to the following acts: signing of the child; anointing with oil of Catechumens; pouring of water; anointing with Chrism; and gifting of the candle. The safest option for signing and anointing continues to be doing so with a cotton ball.

15. RECONCILIATION:

Because Confessional boxes and reconciliation rooms are often too small to respect physical distancing, a larger room or area of the church with clear visibility (in conformity with the norms established for Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment) or outside in an open space, may be used if either the priest or parishioner wish to do so.

16. CONFIRMATION AND FIRST COMMUNION:

Priests are delegated by the Bishop to celebrate Confirmation and First Communion until Covid-19 is over and provided the Restored Order of the Sacraments is maintained. For Confirmations, the Celebrant must wear a face covering when they approach the candidate. The safest option for signing and anointing continues to be doing so with a cotton ball. “The use by the minister of an instrument (gloves, cotton swab…), does not affect the validity of the Sacrament” (Congregation for Divine Worship & the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued October 1, 2020).

17. SACRAMENT OF THE SICK / PARISH OUTREACH MINISTRY:

Priests / parish visitors must call the home or facility they will be visiting to determine the current regulations and guidelines in place, and must respect these.


What Religion Teaches Us About Freedom

In the following video Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Bishop Barron and Rabbi David Wolpe about how the stories of Easter and Passover can teach us important lessons about freedom and hope. Passover celebrates the Jews gaining freedom from slavery through their exodus from Egypt. While Easter celebrates Christians attaining their freedom from sin through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The three of them discuss the place of spirituality, faith and religion during a major crisis like the one we are all living through. How can understanding spirituality or a belief in God help us through these dark times? Or can one find meaning and a sense of purpose without theology? Dave and his guests representing Judaism, and Christianity try to tackle these big questions.

Click on the following link to watch the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrkRl8-wJ6U&list=PLEbhOtC9klbBVQDiwKCMq8RrYdmBjKRrb


Pope Francis Speaks on Coming out of the Pandemic Crisis

August 20, 2020.

Click HERE to access the text about what Pope Francis had to say regarding coming out of the covid-19 Pandemic Crisis.


Corona and the Message of Love

Click the link below to access the message: 

Corona and the Message of Love


Let Christ's Victory fill our Hearts

Click the link below to access Cardinal Bo's message:

Cardinal Bo's Message


English Bishops Gives a Glimpse Into 

Post-Pandemic World

Click the link below to access this article about what the world might look like once the pandemic passes: 

Glimpse into Post-Pandemic World


Anointing of the Sick During Coronavirus

Click the link below to access this article with updates about the sacrament of anointing of the sick during these times. 

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick -- Article



Letter from Christians Leaders of BC

Easter Week
April 8, 2020
Dear fellow British Columbians,

As a group of Christian leaders we seek to join our voice in praise and thanksgiving for the care, kindness, and sacrifice of courageous frontline health care workers, social and food services staff, and civil servants. We are praying for everyone involved in protecting the health and safety of all in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. May God strengthen, protect, and guide all who seek to provide healing and may their work be a moving expression of the mercy and love of God.

We recognize how worrying the global pandemic is. It is a crisis which provokes uncertainty, panic, loss, discouragement, and loneliness. As followers of Jesus, we know that God is with us in the midst of worry and loss. We pray that the Spirit of Christ will bring you peace and an abiding sense of calm. The promise of scripture offers us hope: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. You are in the palm of my hand” (Isaiah 41:10). We have hope that God will see us through this crisis. 

Signs of hope and solidarity are evident throughout our province. Despite the restrictions imposed by social distancing and necessary isolation, people everywhere are discovering new and creative ways of reaching out and helping their neighbour. Knowing the value of community, they are heralds of hope to the lonely and consolers to those in distress. It is inspiring to witness the bonds of affection that sustain our communities and society.

Nearly 2 million people in BC identify as Christian, and the vast majority of them are engaged in their Christian faith and church communities. We are called to love and support our society, not only with our prayers, but also in our actions. Indeed, we are called to “seek the peace of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7). 

In this very difficult time in our world we encourage everyone to:

1. Obey guidelines set by the government, including self-quarantining, social distancing, sanitizing, and hygiene.

2. Find neighbours who are alone or self-quarantining, and offer to help them.

3. Assist the elderly, even if only to talk with them from their porch, through a window, or on the phone.

4. Assist others in need of extra encouragement, companionship, and help, for example: single parents, those with limited mobility or chronic illness, or those struggling with mental illness.

5. Do more of what brings you deep joy, then share with family, friends, and the world.

6. Be in touch with your nearest church or community organization and, if it is safe for you, offer to volunteer. For instance, there will be very high need for grocery and meal delivery in the coming weeks.

7. Donate to charities working on the frontlines. Money is best, but you can call to see what items are most useful in these circumstances. God is with us and wants to shoulder our burdens and offer us comfort and protection. As we pray for the virus to end, let us also together pray:
● For everyone affected by COVID-19 or the closure of social services,
    particularly the elderly, marginalized, homeless, and hungry.
● For the mental and physical health of all.
● For our political and civic leaders to have wisdom, courage, and
    humility as they make extraordinarily difficult decisions.
● For all those who work on the frontlines and behind the scenes.
● That all secular and religious communities would work together for
    the common good.

Let all followers of Jesus Christ join together asking for the grace and peace of our almighty and merciful God, especially for all the sick and their families, health care and social workers, authorities, and volunteers who are sorely tried by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By and for God’s grace,
Christian Leaders of BC.

Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary

A plenary indulgence is granted to the following:

1) To those inflicted with the virus, or quarantined in hospitals or homes, who in a spirit of detachment from sin unite themselves spiritually to the celebration of Mass via the media, or who pray the Rosary, or who make the Stations of the Cross or who engage in other forms of authentic devotion. 

2) A plenary indulgence is also granted to those inflicted who pray the Creed (Nicene or Apostles' Creed) and a Hail Mary. 

3) A plenary indulgence is also granted to health-care workers, family members and all those who exposing themselves to the risk of contagion care for the sick. 

4) A plenary indulgence is also granted to the faithful who make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration) or pray the Holy Rosary or make the Stations of the Cross or pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, engaging in these devotions while praying for an end to the pandemic. 

Decree on behalf of the Pope is signed by Card. Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary, & Fr. Krzysztof Nykiel, Regent)

The plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions: 
1) Prayer for the Pope
2) Confession
3) Holy Communion
(The latter two conditions may be fulfilled when physically possible.)


Hope during the Coronavirus
Some words from Bishop Robert Barron.

Click on the link below to access the video: 


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