COVID-19 Updates

October 19, 2020

Revised 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. Individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a mask to increase their level of safety and the safety of others when inside the church building.

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 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. 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 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 is a separate entrance and exit 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;

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 masked, 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 and respect the physical distancing requirement of two metres. 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 and wearing a facemask should be considered.

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. 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.

b. Holy Water and Baptismal fonts remain empty.

c. Church and Hall Rentals are still not permitted.

d. 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. Thank you for your prayers and efforts as we work together during these challenging times.

In Communion,

Most Reverend Gary Gordon

Bishop of Victoria


October 19, 2020

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

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

Our churches reopened to celebrate the Liturgy on the feast of Pentecost and have adjusted well to the important health and safety protocols outlined by the Provincial Health Authorities. May these Revised Directives ensure that our communities continue to provide a safe and welcoming encounter to gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Christian life. Each parish must take responsibility for following the revised 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. ALTAR SERVERS:

The priest/presider 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 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.

3. 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.

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:

Congregational singing is not permitted as it has proven to contribute to the spread of germs. 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. 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).

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 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.

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:

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.

10. 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.

11. 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 is a separate entrance and exit 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;

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.

12. 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.

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:

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 the Celebrant should then ask the parents if they are comfortable having them approach without a mask, or if they wish a mask to be worn. 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.

15. 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.

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

Confirmation may be conferred provided physical 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.

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).

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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)

20. FUNERALS:

Small groups are preferable, with a maximum of 50 people in attendance, contact tracing, physical distancing 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


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.


Thanks from Bishop Gary

July 9, 2020 

Dear people of God, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and express my deep appreciation to all the pastors, parishioners, and staff in our Diocese. During the past four months, over and over again, I have seen and heard of random acts of kindness and actions that have inspired hope across Vancouver Island. 

Those of you who check on your quarantined friends and neighbours, our frontline workers, the volunteers who help to facilitate the Mass for our congregations, everyone who participates in the Mass, those who are unable to attend Mass in person and unite in prayer via the live stream opportunities, you have my heartfelt gratitude. You all bring glory to God in how you have adjusted during these demanding times. You are a true living example to the world of what it is to imitate Christ by showing charity to others during immense challenges and times of uncertainty.

Together, you have amplified the mission of our faith in the countless ways that you have all taken care of each other and it is extraordinary that not even a pandemic can distance us from the love of God. You have borne witness to that unwavering love in how you have responded to the many unique challenges during this difficult time and I am so proud of every one of you.

Thank you, dear people of God, for the ways you have continued to “be calm, be connected, and be confident” during this unprecedented time.

In Communion,

Most Reverend Gary Gordon

Bishop of Victoria


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


May 21, 2020
Pastoral Letter from Bishop Gary Gordon
Dear People of God,
“Called to Embrace a New Pentecost”
The springtime of the first Pentecost, as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples in the upper room, was made visible with a rushing wind and tongues of fire. The new springtime of reopening our liturgical gatherings is a Pentecost event that will be ushered in with a gentle breeze and a flame of patient love that speaks to the grace of tenderness. In a world gripped by the pandemonium of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must be the heralds of the Good News and the peace of Christ that shines through the cross and tribulation.

The joy of reopening our churches to celebrate together the Sacred Liturgy must unfold carefully, lest our hopeful return to our cherished sacramental life be dashed by haste and the dreaded spike in Covid-19 cases. We can learn much from our Church history. The quiet and small communities of the catacombs were defined by mutual trust and accountability, essential for the Church’s very survival and the earliest formulation of standards for Christian community as seen in the Acts of the Apostles. We too, must adapt to a new normal if we are to gather as models of Christian love and service to the larger community.

The return to our churches must be like the leaven in the dough, measured and small, however I am confident new strengths and graces will continue to emerge. This absence from the familiar has set us on a new path and a new apostolic adventure. We have perhaps learned that being a Catholic is so much more than attending church on Sunday, as important as that may be. Like the analogy of the water from the village well, faith is to be given away and shared with the whole household, for we do not live at the well.

Another learning that has come forward because of our experience with Covid -19 is that we have experienced the lock-down and lockout of thousands of Christians in the world, including our own Diocese and country, due to geographical and existential marginalization. We have been privileged to live a solidarity with so many who rarely, or only occasionally, gather to celebrate the Sacramental life, or hear the Gospel preached. My prayer and great hope is that this experience of want and need will have awakened in all of us a new horizon of hope and missionary zeal that will drive us outward beyond a faith of self-preservation, to a faith of giving it all up for the least of these.

As we prepare to re-open the doors of our churches, three considerations are essential:
1. Stable and identifiable communities for worship;
2. Social distancing and sanitization;
3. Tenderness, patience and kindness are necessary virtues, as we are all vulnerable.

Stable identifiable communities for worship that will gather in churches must be under 50 people, and smaller churches will mean that there will be less than 50 to maintain the two meter social distancing requirement. This will take careful planning and organization with some kind of pre-registration. Opening the doors and just letting people come as they please would be irresponsible and has the potential to create big problems at the church door. In larger parishes, it will be impossible to accommodate every one for the Sunday Liturgy; therefore, the weekdays present an important opportunity for participation. Separate directives and guidelines with specific protocols to help the pastors and parishes plan for reopening our churches will provide further direction.

There are enormous benefits to creating stable communities of less than 50 people who are pre-registered/assigned to attend a particular Mass:
            a. We will have an opportunity to get to know the people who worship together.
            b. We will be encouraged to become accountable and co-responsible for ministries,                     faith and life sharing, and even the sanitization of the place we sit and touch.
            c. We know the community to be a crucial aspect of a healthy Christian life, and this                 will be the time to live the dream of authentic witness, co-responsible, and                              missionary discipleship.
            d. We will imagine the outreach and the leadership potential.
            e. We will be able to understand contact tracing for if one member of our little                             community tested positive for Covid-19, the other 49 people could be immediately                 tested and helped. If people are permitted to travel from Mass to Mass, the                             possibility of an outbreak could close the whole parish for a very long time. This type              of controlled, organized group will be helpful for the health system in the event of an              outbreak of Covid-19.
            f. We are called to be the model of a loving family that learns to live with strengths,                 weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

We know that it is an act of supreme charity for another to stay home if we are sick or unwell. The vulnerable elders and those with compromised health are encouraged to stay home. The live streaming Masses from the Cathedral will continue. We must avoid all semblance of distinction for the people who are fit and able to attend Mass and those who participate remotely. Every part of the Body of Christ is essential and it is the weaker members who deserve the greatest honour.

As we move towards a new horizon of hope, I pray that the Spirit of Pentecost will enflame our hearts with grace and tenderness. Jesus in the gift of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost speaks to us as He did to the frightened disciples in the storm tossed boat “do not be afraid”. In our little lifeboat, we row onward together, pulling in the many poor souls adrift and too weak to swim as we press on to a shore we have not yet seen…. “Do not be afraid”.

In Communion,
Most Rev. Gary Gordon
Bishop of Victoria


    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


Pope Francis Day of Prayer & Fasting & 

Works of Charity on May 14, 2020.

Click the link below to access this article with information about Pope Francis' statement about the Day of Prayer & Fasting, & Works of Charity: 

Day of Prayer & Fasting & Works of Charity


Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops 

Catholic Bishops Consecrate Canada and the United States to Mary, Mother of the Church, on Thursday, April 23 2020

Ottawa – On Friday 1 May 2020, the Catholic Bishops of Canada will consecrate their individual dioceses or eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church, seeking her protection during the Coronavirus pandemic, similar to what other Episcopal Conferences throughout the world have already done. Along with the Bishops, pastors, families, groups, individuals and other faith communities may likewise choose to join the consecration as part of the global effort to unite in faith and prayer in this most difficult time.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), in fraternal communion with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has agreed that this Marian consecration be held on the same day in both countries, making this a most meaningful and powerful intercession throughout North America to the Blessed Mother. The Bishops of Mexico, as well as the other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, consecrated their dioceses and eparchies to Mother Mary this past Easter Sunday. Pope Francis has already offered up a moving Prayer to the Virgin Mary for protection in light of COVID-19 last 11 March 2020.

The first day of May holds particular significance as it marks the beginning an entire month to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary. "May is the month dedicated in a special way to the Mother of Christ. We believe that she is, in a spiritual but real sense, our mother too," said the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and CCCB President. "We turn to her and ask for the help of her powerful and maternal prayers to God for us. To consecrate ourselves to Mary means to be united with her in entrusting our lives entirely to God."

To assist dioceses and eparchies with the consecration, the CCCB prepared a specific prayer for use during the solemn act of entrustment. It can likewise be incorporated into family or individual prayer at home and used by other groups and faith communities.

Related information will be available on the CCCB website at www.cccb.ca 


U.S. and Canadian Bishops set May 1st 

Consecration to Mary

Click the link below to access this article with information about the Consecration to Mary on this upcoming May 1st:

US and Canadian Bishops set May 1st Consecration to Mary


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


Easter at the Holy Sepulchre, where 

Christ rose: 

‘May the wide open tomb of Christ open up wide our tombs as well’

Click on the link below to access the information:

https://www.lpj.org/posts/homily-of-archbishop-pizzaballa-for-easter-vigil-2020.html



Holy Father’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Blessing This 

Easter From Inside an Empty Vatican Basilica

(Full Text)

‘May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end’

APRIL 12, 2020 12:53

ZENIT STAFF CATHOLIC CHURCH, POPE AND HOLY SEE

Pope Francis after his Easter Mass, gave his message “Urbi et Orbi” from inside the Vatican Basilica. In light of the worldwide coronavirus epidemic, no pilgrims were present. Only present in St. Peter’s Square were police, journalists and seagulls.

Millions more listened through radio and television around the world:

Following is the Vatican-provided text of his prepared message:


Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!

Today the Church’s proclamation echoes throughout the world: “Jesus Christ is risen!” – “He is truly risen!”.

Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family. In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” (Easter Sequence).

This is a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.

The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One, not someone else. In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope. Let us turn our gaze to him that he may heal the wounds of an afflicted humanity.

Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell. May the Lord of life welcome the departed into his kingdom and grant comfort and hope to those still suffering, especially the elderly and those who are alone. May he never withdraw his consolation and help from those who are especially vulnerable, such as persons who work in nursing homes, or live in barracks and prisons. For many, this is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties.

This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In many countries, it has not been possible to approach them, but the Lord has not left us alone! United in our prayer, we are convinced that he has laid his hand upon us (cf. Ps 138:5), firmly reassuring us: Do not be afraid, “I have risen and I am with you still!” (cf. Roman Missal, Entrance Antiphon, Mass of Easter Sunday).

May Jesus, our Passover, grant strength and hope to doctors and nurses, who everywhere offer a witness of care and love for our neighbours, to the point of exhaustion and not infrequently at the expense of their own health. Our gratitude and affection go to them, to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings.

In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed. For many, remaining at home has been an opportunity to reflect, to withdraw from the frenetic pace of life, stay with loved ones and enjoy their company. For many, though, this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis. I encourage political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities.

This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless. May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned. Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities (all the more difficult to find now that many businesses are closed) such as medicine and especially the possibility of adequate health care. In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens, and may all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.

This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons. Among the many areas of the world affected by the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe. After the Second World War, this beloved continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past. It is more urgent than ever, especially in the present circumstances, that these rivalries do not regain force, but that all recognize themselves as part of a single family and support one another. The European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world. Let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions. The only alternative is the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation of a return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations.

This is not a time for division. May Christ our peace enlighten all who have responsibility in conflicts, that they may have the courage to support the appeal for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. This is not a time for continuing to manufacture and deal in arms, spending vast amounts of money that ought to be used to care for others and save lives. Rather, may this be a time for finally ending the long war that has caused such great bloodshed in Syria, the conflict in Yemen and the hostilities in Iraq and in Lebanon. May this be the time when Israelis and Palestinians resume dialogue in order to find a stable and lasting solution that will allow both to live in peace. May the sufferings of the people who live in the eastern regions of Ukraine come to an end. May the terrorist attacks carried out against so many innocent people in different African countries come to an end.

This is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people. May the Lord of life be close to all those in Asia and Africa who are experiencing grave humanitarian crises, as in the Province of Cabo Delgado in the north of Mozambique. May he warm the hearts of the many refugees displaced because of wars, drought and famine. May he grant protection to migrants and refugees, many of them children, who are living in unbearable conditions, especially in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey. In Venezuela, may he enable concrete and immediate solutions to be reached that can permit international assistance to a population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words for ever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end. 




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.


Cardinal Tagle’s 2020 Easter Message

‘We are in the garden of Gethsemane with the disciples and 
our faith is being badly shaken.’

APRIL 06, 2020 
By Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to celebrate Easter 2020, finally the world is united. We are united in fear of what tomorrow will bring, of not knowing if our societies will withstand the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and if we or our family members will survive this terrible moment.

We are in the garden of Gethsemane with the disciples and our faith is being badly shaken. Many of us are suffering and are tempted to feel that we have nowhere to turn as science, our governments and the knowledge we have developed to this point in history offer us no solutions.

The pandemic is making the suffering of vulnerable people – migrants and refugees, the elderly, the sick, the poor and unemployed – even deeper. We urge our governments to ensure access to healthcare and social protection for everyone – particularly the most vulnerable. We pray that our leaders rise to the challenge of promoting unity and a shared responsibility in all of our countries.

At this point in history, this turning point which is throwing our lives and societies into chaos, can each of us have the honesty and courage to say “I alone do not have the answer”? Can our governments admit that many of them got it wrong when they didn’t allow everyone to belong to the human family in a dignified way? Can our societies put aside economic concerns and show that they care for everyone without exception?

In the midst of loss, uncertainty, and suffering, something incredible is happening: we are noticing the bonds which form our human family. Bonds that we previously took for granted or ignored. As we live in isolation and we all become marginalized and vulnerable, the global suffering we are seeing has made it startlingly apparent to us that we need other people and other people need us too.

It is as though the stone that covers the tomb is slowly being rolled back to allow a light of recognition. This light heralds Easter and the Risen Christ.

Meanwhile, changes that would have been unthinkable three months ago are actually happening: air quality has improved in a number of countries and warring parties in some others have called ceasefires. These may be temporary, but they remind us that seemingly irresolvable human problems aren’t eternal. We are reminded that Jesus stayed in the tomb for a brief time before rising to eternal life. Death does not have the final say when you make space for hope.

Caritas organizations are facing this global emergency as one confederation and by working in unity, sharing what they have learned with other countries and offering a helping hand to each other. One by one, Caritas organisations around the world have activated to warn, prevent and take care of those affected by the Coronavirus.

My deepest thanks go to Caritas workers and volunteers and all those who are by the side of people who have fallen sick or who are vulnerable and isolated in the midst of this crisis. I feel immense gratitude towards all those who trustingly open their hearts and give themselves fully to bring the lights of love and hope into people’s lives at this dark time. Caritas staff and volunteers and their families are in my prayers as our communities face this enormous challenge.

“Caritas christi urget nos” – the love of Christ urges us on (2 Corinthians 5:14). This love, seen in small and large gestures of hope and solidarity, is calling us to a new future and a new way of living. COVID-19 knows no borders but neither do faith, hope, and love.

The answer to this crisis lies in all of us and in our unity. As people around the world face Easter without the possibility of physical communion, without the possibility of celebrating the Eucharist physically together, we have a time of slow down where we can reflect deeply on what “Body of Christ” means for each of us. In the darkness of this crisis, the light of Christ will shine. Jesus is truly risen! He will not die again. May Jesus rise for people around the world through our love!

Let us pray for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. Let us pray to find the deeper meaning of this challenge that is facing the whole of humanity and which is calling us to faith and to resurrection.

I wish you all an Easter of love and peace.

Yours in Christ,
-Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle



English Bishop Speaks of 

‘a Long Good Friday’

‘This Holy Week will be like no other that we have experienced. ‘

APRIL 06, 2020                                                               Bishop Mark O'Toole

Message at the Beginning of Holy Week: A long Good Friday

My dear friends,

This Holy Week will be like no other that we have experienced.  It is as though we are living a long Good Friday.  We do not know how much longer it will be so.

In this new landscape, which we now inhabit, the supports and regular patterns have had to fall away.  There are no public Church services for us to attend.  There are no bible reflection groups, no soup lunches, no prayer meetings, no visits, no parish social engagements of any sort.  Hardest of all is the Eucharistic fast, and even the opportunity of being able to visit a Church, for some quiet prayer and reflection.

We have all been thrown inward.  Into our own homes and households.  Into our very selves. Yet, these past two weeks have already born some new and unusual fruits, in us, as Catholics.  Brother priests have told me that the daily rhythm of having to say Mass on their own, has meant that they have been praying with and for, not just the community in front of them, but for the whole Church, spread across the globe.  People online, too, are sharing that they feel a deeper connection with unseen brothers and sisters.  In a very good way, modern media has made us all more conscious of that fully Catholic Communion present across the entire world, and even of that unseen Communion of the Saints, who gather with us at every Mass.

Families, too, are praying more at home than they have ever done.  They do so, amidst the stresses and strains of being cooped-up together, for longer than they are used to.  But this brings with it, deeper reservoirs of patience and forgiveness, of tenderness towards one another.   Many are following the Masses and services online, much more than we anticipated.  Some do so, whilst singing their favorite hymns, playing instruments, or joining in reflective songs and choral singing on iPad, iPhone or laptop.

So many of us were captivated by that Holy Hour which Pope Francis presided over last week when he blessed an empty St Peter’s Square with our Eucharistic Lord.  In doing so, he was calling down the Lord’s blessing on the city of Rome and the whole world, Urbi et Orbi.  In his words, on that evening, he reminded us of the real heroes of this time, when he said:

“It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.
In the face of so much suffering, when the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).  How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility.”

With our Holy Father, I believe, that what we are witnessing is a sign of a renewed humanity.

In nature, too, these past weeks have seen the definite signs of spring.  There’s the deeper red, or brighter evening skies, the sound of so many birds and the budding forth of the different varieties of flower and foliage.

Although this time, so often feels like a long Good Friday, in God’s good purposes, it already contains the hope of brighter and better days to come.  And who knows what gifts God will have bestowed upon us, in the meantime?

I think this is why, words from a popular song, originally written by Amanda McBroom, and sung by many, stir in my mind.  The song is called The Rose and the last stanza goes like this:
“When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long.
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose”

I always like to think that the seed is our deepest self, buried deep down within us, now being loved, not just by the sun present in our sky, but by the Son, Jesus Christ.
So, as we live through this long Good Friday, let us try to remember; “in the winter, far beneath…….lies the seed that with His love, in the spring becomes the rose.”

Our sharing in the Son of God’s dying, in this long Good Friday, is a real participation in His redemptive act of love, for all.  It will bring forth fruits, unknown now, for each of us, for our Church and especially for our world.  In this, is our hope.

God bless you.
Please, pray for me.
+Mark O’Toole
Bishop of Plymouth


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, Gratitude, & Solidarity

A Message to Canadians from Religious Leaders in Canada 
in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Click on the link below to access the document: 



Hope during the Coronavirus
Some words from Bishop Robert Barron.

Click on the link below to access the video: 



Extraordinary moment of prayer presided at by the Holy Father before Saint Peter’s Basilica Homily of the Holy Father 

27.03.2020

This afternoon, at 18.00, on the parvis of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father Francis presided at an extraordinary moment of prayer in the time of pandemic with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which began with the reading of the Word of God. The image of the Salus Populi Romani and the Crucifix of Saint Marcellus were placed near the central gate of the Vatican Basilica.

At the end of the celebration, the Pope imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing, with the possibility of receiving plenary indulgence.

The following is the homily pronounced by the Holy Father after listening to the Word of God:

 

Homily of the Holy Father

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35).  The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this.  For weeks now it has been evening.  Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away.  We find ourselves afraid and lost.  Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.  We have realised that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.  On this boat… are all of us.  Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realised that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognise ourselves in this story.  What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude.  While His disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, He stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first.  And what does he do?  In spite of the tempest, He sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping.  When He wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, He turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?” (v. 40).  

Let us try to understand.  In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust?  They had not stopped believing in Him; in fact, they called on Him.  But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38).  Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them.  One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?”  It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts.  It would have shaken Jesus too.  Because He, more than anyone, cares about us.  Indeed, once they have called on Him, He saves His disciples from their discouragement.  

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.  It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities.  The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anaesthetise us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us.  We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?”  Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us.  In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything.  Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste.  We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet.  We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.  Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”. 

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?”  Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith.  Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you.  This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12).  You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing.  It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.  It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.  We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives.  This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial.  It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.  In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).  How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer.  How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all.  Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith”?  Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation.  We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars.  Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them.  Like the disciples, we will experience that with Him on board there will be no shipwreck.  Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.  The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.  We have an anchor: by His cross we have been saved.  We have a rudder: by His cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.  In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.  The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognise and foster the grace that lives within us.  Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing His cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognise that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.  By His cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others.  Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith”?  Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea.  From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace.  Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.  You ask us not to be afraid.  Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful.  But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.  Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5).  And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).



Monday, March 23, 2020.
Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the granting of special Indulgences to the faithful in the current pandemic

The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12: 12). The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resonate throughout the entire history of the Church and guide the judgment of the faithful in the face of all suffering, sickness and calamity.

The present moment in which the whole of humanity, threatened by an invisible and insidious disease, which for some time now has become part of all our lives, is marked day after day by anguished fears, new uncertainties and above all widespread physical and moral suffering.

The Church, following the example of her Divine Master, has always had the care of the sick at heart. As Saint John Paul II points out, the value of human suffering is twofold: “It is supernatural because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human, because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 31).

Pope Francis, too, in these recent days, has shown his paternal closeness and renewed his invitation to pray incessantly for those who are sick with the Coronavirus.

So that all those who suffer because of COVID-19, precisely in the mystery of this suffering, may rediscover “the same redemptive suffering of Christ” (ibid., 30), this Apostolic Penitentiary, ex auctoritate Summi Pontificis, trusting in the word of Christ the Lord and considering with a spirit of faith the epidemic currently underway, to be lived in a spirit of personal conversion, grants the gift of Indulgences in accordance with the following disposition.

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), as soon as possible.

Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, saving us from the evil of this pandemic and obtaining for us every good necessary for our salvation and sanctification.

The present Decree is valid notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 19 March 2020.

X  Mauro Cardinal Piacenza

Major Penitentiary

Krzysztof Nykiel

Regent



Bishop's COVID-19 Update

March 18, 2020

Dear Pastors and People of God,

The spread of COVID-19 in our province and around the world is a matter of deep concern for everyone in our community. Our primary concern must, and always be to care for the spiritual, physical, and mental health and well-being of our fellow parishioners and citizens.

To ensure this, we rely upon our expert medical professionals to provide us with accurate up-to-date information to guide, and protect all of us with the directives they deliver. I have full confidence in the direction given to our province by British Columbia Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

On Monday, Dr. Henry set the limit for group gatherings to a maximum of only 50 people. Asking parishes to limit the number of parishioners coming for Mass to that number (many of whom are seniors) would not be practical or manageable. Therefore, I have made the very difficult decision that effective immediately and until further notice, I am putting in place throughout the Diocese of Victoria the following:

        1. All weekend and weekday Masses, including Sunday Celebrations of the Word are cancelled until further notice. For the duration of this period, I grant to all the Catholic faithful, dispensation from their Sunday obligation. I know that the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the very heart of our Catholic life, and the inability to gather for this worship is a cause of great suffering. Let us accept this as our duty at this time, and offer this moment in sacrifice to God for the sake of all who are ill from the COVID-19 virus. In these extraordinary circumstances, I encourage everyone to participate remotely in the celebration of the Eucharist by tuning in to daily Mass on Vision TV, or online at dailytvmass.com.
        2. All Parish Penitential celebrations are cancelled.
        3. Priests will continue to respond, upon request, to people in the hospital or at home who are gravely ill.
        4. All celebrations of Baptism, First Reconciliation, Confirmation, and First Eucharist, are postponed. Once the Provincial Health Officer has advised that the pandemic has ended, I shall grant to our Pastors any necessary Delegation to enable them to celebrate these Sacraments at the times they themselves will determine in consultation with parents, and guardians.
        5. Funerals may continue to be celebrated in our churches. In consultation with the relatives of the deceased, the Priest Celebrant will determine if participation needs to be limited to family members, so as to be in compliance with prevailing medical directives. No receptions following the funeral liturgy should take place.
        6Marriages may continue to be celebrated in our churches. In consultation with the couple, the Priest Celebrant will determine how to limit the attendance of family members and others in compliance with prevailing medical directives. Marriage Preparation courses have been cancelled until further notice. As such, Pastors will work with couples to fulfill the required preparations individually.
        7. Parishes that normally keep their churches open during the day may retain this practice. In this way, especially during this uncertain and extraordinary time, we want to offer the assurance that the Church remains close to you and is ready to accompany you through this, or any difficulty.
        8. The Chrism Mass will be canceled, along with all Holy Week and Easter Liturgies.

In addition:
        1. Parishes will continue to take extra precautions to sanitize and disinfect their facilities.
        2. All surfaces are to be washed with germ-killing agents.
        3. Continue enhanced cleaning protocols in all high risk ‘hand-touch’ areas that require more frequent wiping and sanitization.
        4. Frequent, daily communications and updates are to be shared and discussed with all parish groups and ministries.

All other Liturgical Directives that I have communicated to the Diocese in earlier Memo updates from March 5, 2020 onwards remain in place. For the most updated information please go to:
https://www.rcdvictoria.org/diocesan-blog/responsetocovid19

We continue to pray for the rapid end to the COVID-19 virus, for those who are ill or have died, and for their families. May the Lord also bless all those who continue to work fearlessly on the frontlines of this pandemic.

In Communion,
Most Reverend Gary Gordon
Bishop of Victoria



Directives for Groups & Ministries in 

Response to COVID-19

Thursday, March 12, 2020.
As we continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 in Canada, we must be diligent in our efforts to lessen the potential spread of the virus. We know that the well-being of your loved ones are the most important concern for you during this time.
We want to let you know that we are monitoring the situation closely, and we believe that the risk of COVID-19 adversely affecting our parishes remains low.
However, some of the things that we can do to anticipate and minimize the possible spread of the virus are:

1. Remain vigilant about hand hygiene, and avoid unnecessary contact (hand shaking, hugging etc.)
2. Out of consideration for the well-being of others in the community, the elderly, anyone with an underlying health condition, and those who feel even remotely unwell are excused from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass.
3. If parishioners have access to television or the internet, those who remain at home may watch Mass at https://dailytvmass.com/ or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/dailytvmass or on VisionTV.
4. In order to reduce social isolation, I encourage everyone to find ways to mobilize people to make phone calls to those who must remain at home, and to provide services such as delivering food and necessary items. Being in regular contact with other parishioners will alleviate loneliness for the homebound.
5. Social gatherings such as pancake breakfasts, pot lucks, buffets, etcetera, that are not essential to the congregation should be suspended until COVID-19 passes.
6. Practice social distancing (2 metres apart) as much as possible.

The situation is fluid and subject to rapid change. We will continue to stay informed, and will share relevant information with you as it is released to us.

We continue to pray for one another, those who are sick, and for our whole society that we may live in charity, be free of anxiety, that our gracious God will bring a swift end to COVID-19, and grant us strength in these challenging times.

-Bishop Gary Gordon.

Statement by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Monday, March 16, 2020.

‘A unique and special time for prayer, hope, and care

Together with all Canadians, the Catholic Bishops of Canada are following with deep concern the current developments in Canada and throughout the world regarding the rapid global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which can in certain cases be the cause of serious illness and even death.

The pandemic is now also spreading across Canada. This new virus is understandably a source of anxiety and fear for many. Practical information on responding to the virus and mitigating its spread is available from local public health officials, as well as from the federal and provincial governments, and should be heeded. Catholic faithful are invited to consult their local diocesan/eparchial websites for the preventive measures to be followed for pastoral care and liturgies. Concern for each person and the common good must always be paramount.

As Catholics, we see in every illness a reminder of our own mortality, as well as an invitation to share in Christ’s ministry of healing. In the face of suffering and sickness, Christians are to be credible witnesses to the Lord’s enduring love, providence, and power in our midst. His mercy and care are always present and available.

We will soon be celebrating Easter – Christ’s triumph over death as the Lord of life and the source of everlasting hope. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is a moment for Catholics to offer special prayers of intercession for the healing of those infected, for the protection of the elderly and infirm who are at greatest risk, for the prevention of the disease’s spread, and for the courage and strength of care providers who minister to the sick, their families and those most in need.

In keeping with Our Lord’s teaching, and as part of the sacred tradition for Lent, it is appropriate whenever possible that our prayer be strengthened by fasting, by other expressions of Christian charity or works of spiritual and corporal mercy.

We entrust our country and especially those affected, as well as their loved ones and caretakers, to the powerful and maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and ours.

Comments