From Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick:
Updated July 3, 2020
In providing a COVID -19 update today, Premier McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that effective July 3, the allowable numbers for gatherings at faith services will be increased from 50 people to 50% of the church’s seating capacity up to a maximum of 200 people, with physical distancing. They have also changed their position from a suggestion to a recommendation that all residents of Nova Scotia should wear masks when physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.
This news comes as we prepare to re-open our churches for the July 4/5 weekend. As Bishop, I support this directive that allows for more people to attend our churches. Our main concern is to continue to allow for 2 meters or 6 feet physical distancing at all times while also following our diocesan protocols that require cleaning and disinfecting.
Parishes are working individually to implement protocols for reopening.
Please check with your parish for times and procedures for attending Mass in person.
As a Diocese, we must continue to work together and assume the responsibility for re-opening our churches for the public celebration of Mass and the sacraments. We continue to ask for your full co-operation and patience as we do our very best to welcome back the faithful. At the core of who we are, as disciples of Christ is our love for God and love of our neighbour. Our hunger to return to our place of worship reveals our love for God. In the midst of this pandemic, we must absolutely be mindful of the safety of our neighbours. The risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread is still with us. While celebrations will be adapted to minimize this risk, it is hoped that our worship experience remains life-giving as we break open the Word of God and are fed by the Body of Christ.
Those who may not be able to attend church for health reasons or due to capacity restrictions are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. I encourage parishes to continue to livestream, video or provide radio coverage of Masses.
May God bless each of you and those that you love. Welcome home.
Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick
Bishop of Antigonish
Questions & Answers
If I am still not comfortable attending Mass, am I still dispensed from my Sunday obligation?
Yes. Bishop Kirkpatrick has indicated that those who may not be able to attend Sunday Mass for health reasons or due to capacity restrictions are dispensed from their obligation to attend. COVID-19 is still in a threat to public health, and our churches are open to a limited number of people allowed by provincial guidelines and safe distancing. Those who are considered vulnerable and those who care for them should not attend.
Is it alright for me to attend Mass at Church?
Those who are vulnerable should stay at home. This includes anyone who is:
- an older adult
- at risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer)
- at risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)
The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household. For more information:
Public Health of Canada Guidelines
I want to attend Mass at Church. What should I do before I/we go to Church?
The reality is that COVID-19 is still a threat to public health. Doing your part to ensure the safety of all will help prevent the spread of this virus. This is why our churches are only open to a limited number of people, and safe distancing must apply at all times.
Those who are considered vulnerable and those who care for them should not attend. Some may not be allowed entry for a specific Mass if capacity is reached before their arrival.
If you have any symptoms that might be COVID-19 related, or if you have been in contact with someone suffering from possible or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms, please remain at home and contact Public Health authorities at https://811.novascotia.ca/
Click here to take a self-assessment: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/when-to-seek-help/
If my church has an elevator, will it be available to use?
Yes, with a limit of one person / one household. The elevator buttons will be cleaned after each use.
Will we have hymnals?
All hymn books, missals, and other materials will be removed from the churches.
Can I sing at Mass?
There is to be no congregational singing at this time, even with your face mask on. A cantor or priest may lead in song.
Will Mass continue to be livestreamed and videoed?
Yes! This is an important part of being a caring Roman Catholic Community. We are grateful for parishes able to provide this service for anyone wishing to celebrate Mass at home. See Churches Online for a list of Facebook, YouTube and radio Masses in our diocese.
Will the Sacrament of Reconciliation be offered?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be made available, with certain conditions. Check with your parish for details.
How will I receive Holy Communion?
Communicants are recommended to wear a mask as they line up for Holy Communion, 2 meters (6 ft.) apart from others. They are to leave their mask on when they reply “Amen” (physically distanced) and during the period when the Host is placed in their hand. They step to one side, and at that point remove the mask in order to consume the Holy Eucharist, affixing the mask after consumption and returning to their place. It is desirable that the priest remind the people that they are to place one open hand upon the other to reverently receive the Sacred Host.
Can I receive Holy Communion on the tongue?
For the safety of the faithful and our clergy, as well as following the strong recommendation of medical authorities, Holy Communion is to be received only in the hand at this time. Since each communicant has the right to receive communion either on the tongue or in the hand, the traditional practice of the option of receiving on the tongue will be restored as soon as the public health situation allows for that. It is noted that some may not agree with this position but I ask you to be mindful, this is indeed a pro-life issue and concerns the well-being of all people.
Will there be Holy Water to bless oneself?
All Holy Water has been removed at the present time.
Will we be able to exchange the sign of peace?
While hand shaking is not permitted, if we are invited to exchange a sign of peace it will be a simple bow of the head to our neighbour.
Will the Liturgy of the Word for Children be offered at Mass?
This ministry is suspended at this time. Our apologies.
Will the collection be taken at Mass?
The collection will not be taken at the traditional time. When you are exiting the main body of the Church, you will be able to make your traditional offering. Ushers will stand by and provide security.
Can I still make my offering via Pre-authorized contribution (PAC) on a monthly basis, via E-transfer, and our diocesan website?
YES! We encourage you to continue with these methods of contributing to your parish. It is easy and the way of the future.
Are baptisms able to take place?
Yes. Please contact your parish for details.
Can a funeral for my loved one take place at the church?
Yes. Please contact your parish for details.
When will the First Communion for our children take place?
We share the excitement of our young children! At the present time, we will still be holding off until we can celebrate this sacrament safely.