COVID-19 Updates

Restart LITURGICAL DIRECTIVES for the Celebration of Mass and the Sacraments during Covid-19

May 28, 2021
Dear Pastors, Administrators, Deacons, and People of God,
Our churches prepare with joy to reopen to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy together. Though some restrictions have been relaxed, we must continue to stay vigilant with infection prevention, modelling and monitoring good behaviour, and following strict protocols regarding cleaning and sanitization. The regulations detailed in the variance for indoor worship services dated May 26, 2021, including the limit of all public gatherings for Mass to no more than 50 people, social distancing, and mandatory face covering use, must be respected during this time:
In addition, all Catholics are encouraged to follow the example of Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Bishop Gary and receive the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered; widespread vaccination is our path to restriction-free liturgical gatherings, activities, and visits.
Each parish must take responsibility for following the Restart Diocesan Directives and Liturgical Directives, and make the appropriate adaptations for their individual communities based upon size and available resources.

CELEBRATION OF THE MASS:
1. FACE COVERINGS:
In accordance with the Province’s “Face Coverings (COVID-19) Order” (https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/mo/mo/m0012_2021), face coverings as defined in the Order must be worn by all people at all times while inside the church building. The only allowable exemptions from the use of a face covering are those given in the Order, and those in the relevant sections below.

2. CELEBRANT:
The priest/presider may remove their face covering when speaking, singing or chanting if there is either a 3 m separation between the priest/presider and all other people in the church, or a physical barrier between them and all other people in the church which blocks the transmission of droplets.

3. ALTAR SERVERS:
The priest/presider will celebrate the Mass without the assistance of Altar Servers.

4. 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 (not of the Eucharist), while maintaining physical distancing. The deacon may not set up the altar. 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. Deacons may remove their face covering when speaking, singing or chanting if there is either a 3 m separation between them and all other people in the church, or a physical barrier between them and all other people in the church which blocks the transmission of droplets.

5. LECTORS:
Only one Lector should be assigned for all the readings to reduce physical handling of the book(s) as well as breathing upon the sound system. Lectors may remove their face covering when proclaiming if there is either a 3 m separation between them and all other people in the church, or a physical barrier between them and all other people in the church which blocks the transmission of droplets.

6. MISSALETTES AND MISSALS:
The Church will not provide missalettes for the use of parishioners; however, parishioners are free to bring their own.

7. MUSIC:
Congregational singing is NOT PERMITTED as it has proven to contribute to the spread of the virus. Music will therefore be limited to a cantor and an accompanist, with no choir. The music provided must only consist of a Processional, Communion, and Recessional Hymn.
Cantors may remove their face covering when singing if there is either a 3 m separation between them and all other people in the church, or a physical barrier between them and all other people in the church which blocks the transmission of droplets.
If accompanists must remove their face covering in order to play their instrument, they may do so when playing if there is either a 3 m separation between them and all other people in the church, or a physical barrier between them and all other people in the church which blocks the transmission of droplets.
The Acclamations (i.e. Kyrie, Gloria, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Alleluia, Holy Holy, Lamb of God, etc.) are not to be chanted or sung by the Presider, cantor, nor the congregation. The words to the music should not be printed or displayed on a screen. Parishioners are encouraged to participate prayerfully, consciously, and actively in the Liturgy (cf#14 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).

8. OFFERTORY PROCESSION:
Gifts are to be prepared at the Credence Table / Altar ahead of time. Parishioners are not to put their hosts into a ciborium directly. There is to be no procession of the gifts.

9. COMMUNION HOSTS FOR THE ASSEMBLY:
Communion Hosts are to be prepared ahead of time and, when placed upon the altar for the consecration, 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. Though the Roman Missal provides an option of omitting the sign of peace, continuing the sign of peace with a gesture, such as bowing, is recommended.

12. COMMUNION:
As there is a small congregation for each Mass (maximum 50), only the priest/presider will distribute Communion, which will be distributed on the hand only. The priest/presider is to apply hand sanitizer after receiving his 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 priest/presider touch the hand of a communicant.
The priest/presider will stand behind a clear Plexiglas screen (provided to all the parishes by the Diocese) which was to be installed on a table at the front of the aisle and through which parishioners may present their hands to receive Communion.
All parishioners will be invited to come forward at Communion in single file, following social distancing markers provided on the floor. Those who do not receive Communion and desire a blessing are welcome to come forward as well, following the same single-file flow. When distributing Communion or giving a blessing, the priest/presider must not touch individuals and maintain the safe distance rule of 2 meters.
Parishioners must wear face coverings until they reach the Plexiglas screen. After receiving the host, they must replace their face coverings before stepping away from the screen.

13. USE OF PARISH HALL:
If a parish has a hall that has its own separate entrance and exit, the parish may use this space to offer additional seating for those who wish to attend a Mass via a live video-feed and projector system. This is possible provided:
a) There are separate entrances, exits, and washroom facilities for the church and the hall;
b) The total number of parishioners present in either space does not exceed 50 people or the maximum occupancy permitted according to size and space;
c) Parishioners participating in the Mass via live video-feed do not have contact with parishioners attending the Mass in person before, during or after Mass
If a hall is used to accommodate another distinct group, the congregation gathered in the hall will wait until the end of Mass to receive Communion from the priest/presider. Plexiglas must be installed near the exit door, along with appropriate physical distancing decals and maximum occupancy signage. The priest will distribute Communion to those gathered as they exit.
The rules for face covering use in the hall are identical to those in the church.

14. TIMING OF COMMUNION:
Provided that only the main church is used for the celebration of the Mass, the priest/presider has two options for the distribution of Communion. The first option is that Communion is distributed in the context of Mass, as per the norm, and parishioners would have an opportunity to make an act of thanksgiving and participate in the sending forth at the end of the Liturgy. The departure from the Mass may then be organized by having people exit row by row. The second option is that parishioners receive Communion at the end of Mass and then leave the church. Observation of these two options suggests that the second is preferred, as it reduces crowding and therefore allows for a safer exit of people from the church.

15. 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:
All rules for face covering use during the Celebration of the Mass must be followed during the celebration of Sacraments.

16. SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:
Priests / Deacons / Administrators may baptize all the while maintaining physical distancing and other safety measures. During the ritual, it is occasionally necessary to approach the child, 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 signing and anointing is to be done with a cotton ball.

17. RECONCILIATION:
Physical distancing and all necessary precautions for sanitization must be respected. 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. The penitent should stand unless kneelers and/or chairs are properly sanitized after each person. Physical distancing markers for those waiting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation must be clearly indicated.

18. CONFIRMATION:
Confirmation may be conferred provided physical distancing and all precautions, including sanitizing, take place. The Celebrant must wear a face covering when they approach the candidate. The signing and anointing is to be done 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).

19. 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.

20. WEDDING:
Small groups are preferable, with a maximum of 50 people in attendance, and physical distancing, contact tracing, and other cleaning protocols must be followed. Receptions and banquets in the church hall are still not permitted at this time.

21. SACRAMENT OF THE SICK:
As per the norms already established in the Diocese for Anointing and the Sacrament of the Sick. (Memo dated April 15, 2020)

22. FUNERALS:
Small groups are preferable, with a maximum of 50 people in attendance, contact tracing, physical distancing, face covering use, and other cleaning protocols must be followed. Receptions and banquets in the church hall are still not permitted at this time.

Thank you for your on-going prayers, support, and faithful example of service to the people of God in our Diocese.
In Communion,
Most Reverend Gary Gordon
Bishop of Victoria

May 28, 2021

Restart 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. Before attending Mass, each person must carry out a health check by reviewing the entry requirement and key questions which are on the poster at https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/posters/help-prevent-spread-covid-19-entry-check-workers?lang=en. Any person who does not pass the health check must not attend Mass.

To increase their level of safety and the safety of others when inside the church building, and in accordance with the Province’s “Face Coverings (COVID-19) Order” (https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/mo/mo/m0012_2021), face coverings must be worn by all people at all times while inside the church building. The only allowable exemptions from the use of a face covering are those given in the Order, and those in the relevant sections of the Restart Liturgical Directives

As an act of supreme charity, the following people must 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. COMMUNICATION:

a. Pastors and Administrators, in consultation with their Parish Pastoral Councils, Liturgical Committee, Parish Support Staff and others concerned, must clearly communicate and effectively remind their parishioners of the 50-person maximum to attend a given Mass; physical distancing and face covering measures in place; and expectations to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing.

b. Any changes to the Mass schedule, if altered, to allow more time between Masses for cleaning or to provide for additional Masses, must be communicated appropriately.

4. CONGREGATION LIMITED TO 50 Person Maximum (including the Pastor):

a. Parishioners will sign up to attend a specific Mass at a specific time on a regular basis. Aside from people with special needs, preferential treatment should be avoided. Among the possibilities for assigning parishioners a set Mass time, parishes may implement a rotation based on the first letter of last names; an online ticketing system; or the formation of fixed “community Mass groups.”

b. A sign-up system is the simplest and recommended method for parishes to solicit the names of parishioners who wish to attend a regular Sunday Mass or Mass during the week. Depending on the method of sign-up chosen, the parishioners should be able to choose the Mass they prefer to attend insofar as this is possible.

c. Each “community Mass group” will be assigned a regular Mass time on Saturday, Sunday or a weekday. To provide an opportunity for all parishioners to attend Mass, parishioners may not sign up for more than one Mass per week at their church, or any other church or chapel in the Diocese. Multiple and easily accessible options for sign-up should be employed, including online sign-ups, written sign-ups, email, and phone calls.

d. A “first-come, first-served” system, as well as exclusively online or email sign-up systems should be avoided since restriction to these methods might exclude many who would otherwise wish to attend.

e. Signs should be placed on the church doors to indicate the Mass schedule, along with a telephone number and email address for people wanting to regularly attend Mass, but are unaware of sign-up and contact tracing procedures.

f. Physical distancing guidelines must be posted on the church doors and, where appropriate, elsewhere inside the church. The Diocese has provided a limited number of posters and social distancing “stand here” decals as templates for each parish to use.

g. Contact Tracing: A database record of everyone’s contact information is required and a detailed list (“attendance roster” or log record) of those who participate in each Mass must be retained. These lists must be retained for 30 days, and then destroyed. In the case of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, the parish will provide the public health officials with the “attendance roster”. In the event of an outbreak of Covid-19, the public health authority will determine the steps to be implemented and followed by the Diocese and parish community.

h. “Unregistered” Walk-ups for Mass: May be permitted, in consultation with the Pastor/Administrator, provided that there are less than 50 people registered to attend the Mass, or that the pre-determined maximum occupancy allowed in the building has not been met. All “unregistered” walk-ups must complete the Covid-19 Assessment and Contact Tracing form, which must be retained by the parish.

5. USE OF PARISH HALL

If a parish has a hall that has its own separate entrance, exit and washrooms, the parish may use this space to offer additional seating for those who wish to attend a Mass via a live video-feed and projector system. This is possible provided:

a. There are separate entrances, exits and washrooms for the church and the hall;

b. The total number of parishioners present in either space does not exceed 50 people or the maximum occupancy permitted according to size and space;

c. Parishioners participating in the Mass via live video-feed do not have contact with parishioners attending the Mass in person before, during or after Mass

If a hall is used to accommodate another distinct group, the congregation gathered in the hall will wait until the end of Mass to receive Communion from the priest/presider. Plexiglas must be installed near the exit door, along with appropriate physical distancing decals and maximum occupancy signage. The priest will distribute Communion to those gathered as they exit.

6. RESPONSIBILITIES OF USHERS AND GREETERS:

a. The responsibilities of the volunteer ushers and greeters will actually increase during this time for they will be the first point of contact for arriving parishioners. They need to be wearing face coverings, identified by badges or other means, and able to interact with the parishioners while still maintaining physical distancing.

b. The ushers/greeters should have a copy of an “attendance roster” to confirm that those who arrive for Mass have previously signed up and that their contact information is available.

c. Ushers stationed at the church entrance can monitor those who enter, reminding them to sanitize their hands, respect the physical distancing requirement of two metres, and wear face coverings at all times. Members of a single household may enter and exit together.

d. Hand sanitizing should take place near the entrance to the church for those coming to Mass. A bottle of sanitizer, touched by many, should not be used. Instead, an automatic dispenser is required or an usher/greeter wearing a mask will need to spray the hands of those entering the church.

e. The ushers/greeters are also responsible for pointing out available pews for seating.

f. The ushers/greeters could also assist with spacing and organizing parishioners entering the line for communion.

7. PHYSICAL DISTANCING:

a. Except for members of the same household, physical distancing is to be observed everywhere on the church property (in the church, on the steps, in the parking lot, etc.); close contact with those outside one’s household must not be within two metres of another person.

b. Smaller churches may not be able to accommodate 50 people at a time to allow for the required physical distancing requirements; therefore, the parish will need to determine the maximum occupancy permitted in their space.

c. All churches, halls, and rooms must post the maximum capacity for occupancy number (50 or under) in a visible space on the respecting doors. (Please see attached form).

d. People are not to gather in the vestibule or near the doors of the church before or after Mass. If the pastor wishes to greet parishioners after Mass, physical distancing must be maintained.

e. Offertory counting procedures must be enhanced to include hand sanitizers, gloves, and a large, well-ventilated area to ensure social distancing is respected.

8. ENTRANCES AND EXISTS:

a. When possible, entrance and exit doors should be propped open as people enter and exit, so that the parishioners need not touch the handles or doors to enter or exit.

b. At least one entrance should be open and accessible to the handicapped. If more than one entrance is open, care must be taken to control the overall number of people entering and to see to their proper sanitation and contact information.

c. When possible, multiple exits should be used at the end of Mass to expedite departure and minimize chances of crowding.

d. Once the maximum of 50 persons in the church/hall is reached, no one else may enter and people must be turned away in a polite and respectful manner. Parishioners should also be advised to contact the parish office in order to make the necessary arrangements to be included at a future Mass or added to a wait-list.

9. SEATING IN THE PEWS:

a. To maintain physical distancing, seating may be restricted to every second or third pew (or row of seats). Seats that can be used should be clearly marked. Rows may be conveniently closed off with painter’s tape, which will not damage the pews. In a large church, some sections may be cordoned off to reduce the need for sanitizing everywhere.

b. All hymnals, missals, pew cards, and other loose items in the pews must be removed, in order to facilitate cleaning.

c. Collection baskets must not be passed from person to person in the pews. A locked collection box, or other secure box, perhaps under the supervision of an usher/greeter may be provided for parishioners to deposit their offerings.

10. MUSIC

a. Congregational singing is NOT PERMITTED as it has proven to contribute to the spread of germs. Music will therefore be limited to a single cantor and an accompanist, with no choir. The music provided must only consist of a Processional, Communion, and Recessional Hymn. The Acclamations (ie. Kyrie, Gloria, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Alleluia, Holy Holy, Lamb of God, etc.) are not to be chanted or sung by the presider, cantor, nor the congregation. The words to the music should not be printed or displayed on a screen. Parishioners are encouraged to participate prayerfully, consciously, and actively in the Liturgy (cf#14 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).

11. CLEANING, SANITIZING AND DISINFECTING:

a. Cleaning protocols must be defined, implemented, and followed. A cleaning log must be kept demonstrating due diligence in keeping the premises sanitized.

b. All high touch surfaces must be sanitized between Masses in the church proper, including pews, kneelers, doors, handles, etc. An adequate stock of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies, including disposable gloves for cleaners, should be readily available.

c. Janitorial staff, volunteers, or others who are not vulnerable because of age or health conditions must clean and sanitize the pews and other high-touch surfaces immediately after every Mass. Due to the need for strict cleaning and sanitizing, it is recommended that restrooms be closed or open with limited access and available for emergencies.

d. Parish family rooms may be closed or restricted to one family. They may be used only if proper circulation can be assured, and they will need to be carefully cleaned after use.

e. Kneelers in front of the statues should be removed. All kneelers in front of the Vigil Lights should be removed. The sticks that are used to light the Vigil Lights should be used only once and then discarded.

12. OTHER:

a. Parishioners must not gather or socially engage with each other before, during or after the service. Parishioners must disperse immediately after the service, and must not mix with others who are leaving an earlier service, the same service, or arriving to attend a subsequent service

b. Parish bulletins are not to be printed and distributed. All paper and other loose printed items, library books, and religious articles should be removed from the foyer.

c. Holy Water and Baptismal fonts remain empty.

d. Church and Hall Rentals are still not permitted.

e. All parish meetings, education programs, and social gatherings (outside of the Mass) are still not permitted.

I am very grateful that our churches and schools have remained safe and we wish to build upon this success as we continue to monitor the pandemic in the future. Please keep in prayer the many places in our world that do not have the kind of health care system that we do, nor an equitable access to vaccines. Our brothers and sisters in so many places continue to suffer grievously from this pandemic. We are family, and if one member suffers, we all suffer. Thank you for your prayers and efforts as we work together during these challenging times.

In Communion,

Most Reverend Gary Gordon

Bishop of Victoria


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


February 8, 2021

COVID-19 Provincial Health Order EXTENDED

The Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has extended the Provincial Health Order currently in place with restrictions on indoor social gatherings and events to curb the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the following Diocesan Directives remain in place:

- All Masses, Sunday Celebration of the Word, and scheduled Liturgical events with a congregation remain suspended. Parishioners in the Diocese of Victoria remain dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass.

- During these extraordinary circumstances, parishioners are encouraged to participate remotely in the celebration of the Eucharist utilizing various means of communication, including the television, live-stream or taped options. The opportunity to enhance the celebration of the Liturgy, though remotely, with the addition of a cantor, musician, proclaimer, and videographer is permitted.

- Priests will continue to respond, upon request, to people in the hospital or at home who are gravely ill.

- Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals may be celebrated, with immediate family only, and no more than 10 people present (including the priest). Receptions are not permitted.

- Individual appointments for Confessions are permitted.

- Parishes that normally keep their churches open during the day for private prayer may retain this practice, while maintaining normal protocols, including maintaining physical distancing, masks, and sanitizing

- In order to reduce social isolation, we are encouraged to communicate via phone and email, and to perform acts of charity by staying in contact with friends, neighbours, co-workers, and parishioners in need.

May we remain united in prayer as we work together, in the words of Pope Francis “to cooperate and care for the most vulnerable, doing the hard work of learning to listen to and accompany others” during this pandemic.

In Communion,

Most Reverend Gary Gordon

Bishop of Victoria


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


Initial Protocol for Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church

In consideration of the health and well being of all in attendance at Mass, the following parish protocol has been established from Bishop Gary’s directives.

  • Preregistration is required for all attendees, either by phoning or emailing the Parish Office at 250-537-2150 or ourladyofgrace@shaw.ca. You will need to provide the name(s) of those attending plus contact tracing information. If you are not registered in advance, you will not be admitted to that Mass.
  • Registered parishioners can attend either Mass, the 5 pm Saturday Mass or the 10 am Sunday Mass, but not both, and they must stick with that Mass.
  • The wearing of face coverings to prevent the spread of germs is recommended, but not mandatory.
  • The main door will be opened 15 minutes before Mass. Please plan to arrive early, as your registration will need to be confirmed. No late entries will be permitted after Mass has begun.
  • Only one entrance to the church will be open, the main door by way of the ramp. All parishioners must be prepared to walk around from the parking area, maintaining physical distancing (unless in a family group), following the guidance offered by the outside greeter who will be present to confirm registration. Unless you have a mobility issue, please do not use the handicapped parking areas.
  • Once inside the church, there is a collection box followed by a hand sanitizing station.
  • Everyone will be asked to apply hand sanitizer. You will be given a Missal to use and we ask that you please leave it in your pew when you leave.
  • The kneelers in each pew will not be used at this time. Parishioners may stand or sit, as they are able, during normal times of kneeling.
  • To cut down on sanitizing requirements, only one washroom will be open.
  • Father Scott will direct the order of movement for Holy Communion; it will be different from what we are used to. Please stay seated until directed to come forward.
  • Anyone with mobility issues can leave through the most convenient door.
  • The church will receive special cleaning and sanitizing immediately following each Mass, using a written protocol that has been reviewed with volunteer cleaners to ensure consistent application.

All parishioners in the Diocese of Victoria remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass during this initial reopening phase.


Let Christ's Victory fill our Hearts

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

Cardinal Bo's Message


    Liturgical Directives for the Celebration of Mass and the Sacraments during Covid-19

May 21, 2020.

        Dear Pastors, Administrators, Deacons, and People of God,

        As we are called to embrace a new Pentecost and prepare our faith communities to reopen to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy together on May 30, 2020, we do so intentionally to guarantee the health and well-being of those entrusted to our care. Each parish must take responsibility for following the established Diocesan Guidelines, Liturgical Directives, and Provincial Health Authorities mandates, to make the appropriate adaptations for their individual communities based upon size and resources.

        CELEBRATION OF THE MASS:

        1. ALTAR SERVERS:

        As we begin to open our churches for public Masses, the priest will celebrate the Mass without the assistance of Altar Servers.

        2. ROLE OF THE DEACON:

        Provided the deacon is healthy and comfortable to exercise his diaconal role at Mass, he would function as a Deacon of the Word (not of the Eucharist), while maintaining social distancing. The deacon would not set up the altar. For Communion, if the deacon receives from the Chalice, a second chalice is to be used, and the deacon would purify his own chalice but not the celebrant’s chalice.

        3. LECTORS:

        Only one Lector should be assigned for all the readings to minimize the physical contact with the book (s) as well as breathing upon the sound system, which might then be touched by others.

        4. MISSALETTES AND MISSALS:

        The Church will not provide missalettes for the use of parishioners; however, parishioners are free to bring their own.

        5. MUSIC:

        Music should be limited to a cantor and an accompanist, with no choir. Robust congregational singing should be discouraged as it has proven to contribute to the spread of germs. The words to the music should not be printed or displayed on a screen. No printed song sheets or hymnals should be provided at this time.

        6. OFFERTORY PROCESSION:

        Gifts are to be prepared at the Credence Table / Altar ahead of time. Parishioners are not to put their hosts into a ciborium directly. There is to be no procession of the gifts.

        7. COMMUNION HOSTS FOR THE ASSEMBLY:

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

        8. 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.

        9. KISS OF PEACE:

        The rules of social distancing must be respected and parishioners are to be reminded to not shake hands, or hug each other, unless they are sitting together as a family unit.Parishioners may be invited to bow or extend another gesture of peace to one another.

        10. COMMUNION:

        As there will be a small number of parishioners (below 50), only the priest/presider will distribute Communion, which will be distributed on the hand only. The priest/presider is to use hand sanitizer after receiving his own Communion and prior to the distribution to others. Hand sanitizer is to be utilized at the end of the distribution of communion, and any time the fingers of the priest/presider touch the hand of a communicant.

        The priest/presider will stand behind a clear Plexiglas screen (provided to all the parishes by the Diocese) which will need to be installed on a table at the front of the aisle for the parishioners to present their hands for communion.

        All parishioners will be invited to come forward at Communion in single file, while maintaining social distancing guides provided on the floor. Those who do not receive communion and desire a blessing are welcome to come forward, as one does for communion. The priest/presider must not touch the individuals and maintain the safe distance rule of 2 meters.

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

        A physically challenged or handicapped person might not be able to extend their hands and therefore common sense and pastoral discretion is required.

        12. TIMING OF COMMUNION:

        The priest/presider has two options for the distribution of communion. The first option would be that Communion would be distributed in the context of Mass as per the norm and parishioners would have an opportunity to make an act of thanksgiving and participate in the act of sending forth at the end of the Liturgy. The departure from the Mass could be handled safely by having people exit row by row. The second option is that parishioners could receive Communion at the end of Mass and then leave the Church, thus providing for an orderly and safe exit.

        SACRAMENTS:

        13. SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:

        Priests / Deacons / Administrators may baptize all the while maintaining social distancing and other safety measures. Occasionally, during the ritual, it is necessary to approach the child and the Celebrant should ask the parents if they are comfortable having them approach without a mask or if they wish a mask to be worn for the following: signing of the child; anointing with oil of Catechumens; pouring of water; anointing with Chrism; giving of the candle. The signing and anointing is to be done with a cotton ball. The parents sign the child and only those others that the parents permit to sign the child.

        14. RECONCILIATION:

        As per the norms already established, provided social distancing and all the necessary precautions for sanitization are in place. Confessional boxes and Reconciliation rooms are too small for social distancing and therefore 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. The penitent should stand unless kneelers and/or chairs are properly sanitized after each person. Social distancing markers for those waiting for the sacrament of reconciliation must be clearly indicated.

        15. CONFIRMATION – of those who desire to enter the church after RCIA:

        Confirmation may be conferred provided social distancing and all precautions, including sanitizing take place. The Celebrant should ask the candidate if they are comfortable having them approach without a mask or if they wish a mask to be worn.

        16. CONFIRMATION AND FIRST COMMUNION:

        Priests may be delegated by the Bishop to celebrate Confirmation and First Communion, provided the Restored Order of the Sacraments is maintained. If someone wishes to await the presence of the Bishop next year, then they must wait for both sacraments. The celebration of Confirmation and First Communion may take place within a Mass provided the necessary protocols are followed.

        17. WEDDING:

        As per the norms already established in the Diocese for the celebration of the wedding in the church. Small groups are preferable, less than 50 people is required, social distancing and other protocols to be followed. Receptions in the church hall are not permitted at this time.

        18. SACRAMENT OF THE SICK:

        As per the norms already established in the Diocese for Anointing and the Sacrament of the Sick.

        19. FUNERALS:

        As per the norms already established in the Diocese for the celebration of a funeral in the church. Small groups are preferable, less than 50 people is required, social distancing and other protocols to be followed. Receptions in the church hall are not permitted at this time.

        Thank you for your solicitude, prayers, and faithful example in service to all the people in our Diocese.

        In Communion,

        Most Reverend Gary Gordon

        Bishop of Victoria


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: 


Comments