Catholic churches offer alternatives

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Churches in the Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan are closed for Sunday masses and services until further notice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas updated the situation in a letter April 1 on the archdiocese website.

“We have had to cease all public celebrations of mass and other sacraments that, at latest count, gather more than 15 people,” Pettipas writes.

“We are asking our priests to set times when churches can be opened to the public for personal prayer and devotion.”

Some churches are opened upon request and arranged by the priest on an on-call basis, says Allan Forsberg, communications co-or- dinator for the archdiocese.

Several larger parishes offer livestreamed masses and devotions, such as stations of the cross, prayer services and pastor’s messages, he notes.

Special services for Holy Week and Easter have been cancelled and eucharist will not be served.

Those include Palm Sunday, the Chrism Mass [held the Tuesday of Holy Week], Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.

While each parish priest will celebrate those services, gatherings in churches are not permitted.

The Chrism Mass will have to be celebrated at a later date, still to be determined, Forsberg says.

Most people are taking advantage by watching posts on the Archdiocesan Facebook page and website, their own church Facebook page, and the pages of others, he says.

Parishes are sending online bulletins and notices.

“Churches, priests and diocese are becoming quite creative,” Forsberg says.

Churches in smaller communities are staying connected by various ways.

Not everyone has access to computers or wifi.

For more information, visit the website at www.archgm.ca.

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