Following upon recommendations issued Wednesday by the premier, the minister of health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, archbishop Michael Miller has issued the following recommendations to all the parishes in the archdiocese. Much of what I write here you will no doubt have heard or read elsewhere, but I think it important to drive home the message every way we can.
All those who are elderly, have a chronic condition of any kind, or whose immune system is compromised are excused from the obligation of attending Sunday mass, and advised, in fact, not to attend. Remember that you can watch the Sunday mass on television and pray the Prayer for Spiritual Communion*. We urge those of you who know of people who will be isolated because of the threat of contracting covid-19 to be in touch with them to break their isolation and determine whether they have any needs.
“The faithful are strongly recommended to receive Holy Communion only in the hand.” Common sense dictates that the common good trumps a Catholic’s right to receive communion on the tongue. If you insist, communion on the tongue will be distributed, but only at the end of communion, when all others will have received. Our extraordinary ministers of the eucharist always sanitize their hands both before and after distributing communion. In addition, they will be directed to minimize hand to hand contact when distributing communion, and they will be assured that they need not feel obligated to serve as an e.m. if they are not comfortable doing so.
We will maintain the exchange of peace prior to the Lamb of God, but we will do it in the Asian way. No direct physical contact.
As soon as possible, we will install hand sanitizers in the foyer, at the entrance to the church basement hall, and in all our bathrooms. Also, we will have someone disinfecting all surfaces that are touched by many people (door handles, toilets and sinks, bathroom counters, etc.) during all Sunday masses, such that people touching these surfaces after the mass will be protected from infected droplets that may have been deposited on these surfaces prior to the mass.
Until further notice, we have suspended refreshments in the church basement after the 5:00 p.m. mass on Saturday, and after the morning masses on Sunday.
We ask all groups using any parish venue to disinfect any surface that they have used for a gathering of any kind. We will ensure that disinfectants are available and clearly visible in the rectory, in the gym, and in the church basement.
“The public health officer suggests that people maintain a two-metre space between one another.” This is clearly not possible in our gatherings, but let us at least retain the point: not only direct physical contact, but even physical proximity, should be kept at a minimum.
Finally, it is with regret that we announce that our parish mission that was to begin this Sunday, May 15, is postponed for obvious reasons.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, so there may be more recommendations and announcements in the weeks to come. Thank you for cooperating with us to keep St. Mary’s parishioners that you all are as safe as possible. Let us pray especially today for those infected with the virus and for those attending to them. And let us pray in thanksgiving for the incredible professionalism and effectiveness of our health care system in dealing with this crisis. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made Heaven and Earth.”
*Prayer for Spiritual Communion copies are available in the church foyer or at https://rcav.org/wp-content/uploads/spiritual-communion-prayers.pdf