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COVID Response Update May 15, 2020
Colleagues in Christ,
The Catholic Bishops of Alberta remain committed to the gradual reinstatement of public celebrations of the Mass and welcome the recent release of the Guidance for Places of Public Worship document as part of the provincial government’s relaunch strategy. These guidelines are being carefully considered by the task force that the Bishops have established under the direction of Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton and Bishop William McGrattan of Calgary.
The task force is drafting for the Bishops a set of directives for the gradual reintroduction of Masses in public. The Bishops will present these to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. The proposed directives will take into consideration the information that will be received from the Telephone Town Hall with the Premier and the Chief Medical Officer scheduled for Thursday, May 21. No date will be set for the resumption of public liturgies in our Catholic churches and institutions until the Bishops are satisfied that their own directives can be fully and properly implemented.
Any announcement of the date for the gradual reintroduction will be made at least five days before the first scheduled Mass. Parishes by then will have received diocesan guidelines which help ensure the safety of everyone.
“It is critical that we understand the risks and take steps in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through prudent planning,” said Bishop McGrattan. “The health and safety of our parishioners, priests, and church staff are of utmost importance. Each and every life is a precious gift from God, and we are called to do everything in our power to protect them. This has been a tremendous sacrifice on the part of the faithful who strongly desire to celebrate the Eucharist in their parish communities. We are grateful for their cooperation, their patient endurance, and especially for their prayers.”
Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton
Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic we have all had to change our behavior to protect others. Please read the following.
Archbishop Richard Smith has requested that all weekend and weekday masses in the Archdiocese of Edmonton are cancelled until further notice and has granted to all the Catholic faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation. Since the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the very heart of our Catholic life, the inability to gather for this worship is a cause of great suffering. Let us accept this as our civic 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. With respect to the Liturgies of Holy Week, further directions will be forthcoming in due course.
- Priests will remain available to hear confessions, but the use of the confessional is prohibited throughout the period of this pandemic.
- All celebrations of Baptism, First Eucharist, First Reconciliation and Confirmation are postponed until the Chief Medical Officer has advised that the pandemic has ended.
- This directive applies likewise to the celebration of initiation into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. This, too, is to be postponed until the Chief Medical Officer has advised that the pandemic is ended.
- Sacramental preparation classes for both children and adults are cancelled. Catechists will provide to parents the resources necessary to help them complete at home the remaining instruction to be given to their children.
- In the case of the RCIA, the pastor or catechist may proceed to the personal interviews of the candidates to determine their readiness.
- 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. Public receptions following the funeral liturgy should not take place.