Catholic churches reopen

Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan reopened for Sunday masses and other services with restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Paul’s Catholic Church in High Prairie is one of many Catholic churches in the region.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Churches in the Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan reopened for Sunday masses and other services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health orders in the first phase of the relaunch in Alberta in May allow churches to open with extensive restrictions and regulations, which permit one-third of regular attendance or a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower.

Guidelines for Catholic churches in Alberta set by bishops were outlined in a letter May 26 from the archdiocese.

“What we have achieved so far is the first step of a return to celebrating our faith as it is meant to be,” Archbishop Gerard Pettipas says.

“The pandemic is not over, so we must still be very careful.

“I ask for the prayers of our people and the co-operation of everyone in the hope that we may move steadily and cautiously ahead.”

Parishes which have made necessary preparations are allowed to offer Sunday masses as of June 7 and weekday masses on June 1.

In order to protect the health of parishioners, volunteers, staff and clergy, the bishops in Alberta set a detailed list of conditions that must be met before congregants can safely be invited back to mass.

Those include:

  • -Limiting the total number of participants at each mass to 50 or fewer, if required to ensure physical distancing.
  • -Asking attendees to answer a series of health and travel-related questions as recommended by Alberta Health Services.
  • -Recording contact information of attendees for the purpose of contact tracing if necessary.
  • -Sanitizing hands upon entry and exit.
  • -Requiring masks for all volunteers and encouraging attendees also to wear masks.
  • -Observing physical distancing throughout the celebration.
  • -Extra cleaning of the church between masses.

Congregants may receive Holy Communion in the form of the consecrated bread, but there will be no distribution of consecrated wine.

Communicants will need to wear a mask to approach for Holy Communion as will the priest when he is distributing it.

During this first stage, singing during mass will not be allowed as this activity has been shown to spread respiratory droplets that can infect others.

Any socializing before or after mass is allowed only outside with social distancing.

Parishioners are encouraged to check their parish website for local information before attending church.

It has been two months since public celebrations of the mass were cancelled in Alberta.

The full reinstatement of public masses will take place gradually in parallel with the provincial relaunch strategy.

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