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Pastoral Letter – October 2020

From Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick:

For Oct. 7
Our Lady of the Rosary



It has been seven months since COVID-19 was identified in mid-March 2020. Sadly, so many people have died but fortunately many more have survived.  A century ago, from 1917 to 1920, the Spanish flu infected around 500 million people worldwide, which was about one-third of the population. It is considered to be one of the deadliest pandemics with an estimated 50 million deaths. 

It was in the midst of the Spanish flu pandemic, beginning in May 1917 and concluding in October, that our Lady appeared to the three young shepherd children at Fatima on the 13th day of each month.  During her final apparition in October, she described herself as the Lady of the Rosary. She always called for people to pray the rosary daily as a way of bringing peace to the world. She asked us to be sorry for what we have done wrong; to put God first in our lives; to pray the Rosary each day for peace and make sacrifices for sinners so they will know and love God. 

There is a prayer available on My Parish App entitled “Coronavirus Novena Prayer” which might be of interest. This prayer calls us to remember Mary as one who took part in Jesus’ pain while remaining steadfast in faith and asks for her intercession with Jesus, the Divine Physician. It is a wonderful prayer that is so fitting for the circumstances of the day when so many are affected by this virus.

On October 3 at the tomb of St. Francis, Pope Francis issued new encyclical Fratelli Tutti calling for a more “open world,” with renewed encounter and dialogue that he hopes will promote “a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words.”  The words Fratelli Tutti are taken from the sixth of 28 admonitions, or rules, that St. Francis of Assisi gave his brother friars offering them “a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel.”  He also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, which “unexpectedly erupted” as he was writing the encyclical, underlined the “fragmentation” and the “inability” of countries to work together.   If anything this pandemic has made us realize that we need to work together as members of local and world community.  Pope Francis calls for “a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance.” 

On Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis issued his annual message for World Mission Sunday celebrated on October 18, placing mission within the context of the current coronavirus pandemic.  Pope Francis said, even amid the disorientation and fear provoked by the current international crisis, the Lord continues to ask “Whom shall I send?” Even as we touch our frailty in the pain and death we are experiencing, we are also reminded “of our deep desire for life and liberation from evil”. This is where the call to mission emerges as an “invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour” […] “through service and intercessory prayer”.

During these past months, this challenging “invitation” has led us to explore new ways to minister and serve, and respond to our call to worship.  Technology has been a gift and will continue to be a key in how we minister to our communities. We have returned to celebrating public Mass, but we must continue to abide by diocesan restrictions including the need for facemasks and physical distancing. It is now permissible to open the parish halls, but for the time being, this should be limited to parish groups with limits on the numbers as identified in the provincial guidelines and with the facemasks and physical distancing restrictions. Food and refreshments can be offered but with no buffet or self service but rather one person would serve food and dispense beverages. Another issue is contact tracing – we need to collect contact information in the event that someone who attended an event is later diagnosed with COVID -19. It cannot be business as usual.  As Doctor Strang said this week to religious leaders, we need to maintain our levels of restriction and to recognize the virus early in order to prevent it from getting a foothold.  

Let me end with sincere best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. Having presided at the recent funeral Mass of Father Gus MacLeod, I am grateful for many things, one of them is being able to serve with such dedicated laity and clergy who continue to give so freely of themselves in ministry. I hope that the glory of the fall colours and the time of quiet celebration will be renewing for us all.

May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick


Coronavirus Novena Prayer

O Mary, you brighten our path as a sign of salvation and of hope.  We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who, at the Cross, took part in Jesus’ pain while remaining steadfast in faith.  O loving Mother, you know what we need and we are confident that you will provide for us as at Cana in Galilee.  Intercede for us with your Son, Jesus, the Divine Physician, for those who have fallen ill, for those who are vulnerable, and for those who have died.  Intercede also for those charged with protecting the health and safety of others and for those who are tending to the sick and seeking a cure.  Help us, O Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who took upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows, so as to lead us, through the Cross to the glory of the Resurrection. Amen.

Under thy protection, we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God.  In our needs, despise not our petitions but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish

  • Barbara - October 21, 2020

    Is having Sunday mass on Sat Oct.31 at 3 :00 pm count for Sunday mass.

    • Jennifer Hatt - October 22, 2020

      Thank you for your question!
      The practice in our Diocese is for the anticipated Sunday Mass to be celebrated not earlier than 4 pm on Saturday, however, exceptions can be made by the Bishop for pastoral reasons.