Dear brothers and sisters,

In light of the continued spread of Covid-19, and of the advice being given by provincial health authorities to limit gatherings of people to no more than 150, in order to protect the vulnerable among us, the Catholic bishops of New Brunswick have decided unanimously to cease the celebration of all Saturday evening and Sunday Masses in all four New Brunswick dioceses until further notice beginning next weekend March 21/22. Masses will be celebrated as scheduled for this weekend.

Catechism classes will be suspended as well until further notice. For the time being weekday masses and baptism, funerals or weddings may be celebrated as long as they respect the limit of 150 people. Confessions will still be offered at the usual times and churches will remain open and accessible at the regular times for private prayer.

The Catholic people of the Diocese of Saint John are dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass for the duration of this suspension of weekend masses. Our people are asked to watch Mass on television, pray the rosary, read the Scriptures, or otherwise pray as long as Sunday Mass is not possible. These preventive measures will be reviewed prior to Holy Week. Please keep the sick, and all who care for them in your prayers.

Sincerely in Christ,

+Christian Riesbeck, CC

Bishop of Saint John

Further Notes on Covid-19

Dear Father, here are some further notes on the changes taking place in our parishes because of Covid-19.

This weekend, please read the Bishop’s letter at all Masses and/or explain what it entails.

Please remove all holy water from the church before this weekend.

Please do not have members of the faithful bringing up the gifts at the offertory this weekend.

Please refrain from the sign of peace at all Masses.

Please distribute Communion only under the species of bread.

For those who wish to receive Communion on the tongue, you might direct them to come only to the priest and to receive after those receiving in the hand.

Daily Masses may be celebrated according to your usual schedule. Please encourage the congregation to spread out through the church.

Confessions may be celebrated at the usual hours.

Baptisms may be celebrated but without large gatherings of people.

Funerals may only be celebrated with family and close friends. No receptions may be held in the parish hall after.

Catechism classes are suspended.

Parish functions like bingo or receptions are suspended.

Small groups like AA or private prayer groups may meet taking reasonable precautions.

Parish staff should clean door handles, railings, etc on a frequent basis.

We should continue to care for our people by the usual means as best we can through parish offices, visitation of the sick, etc. As pastors we are still obliged to offer Mass for our people weekly even if this is done privately or at a daily Mass.

These actions are not taken lightly. They are an expression of responsibility for the well-being of all entrusted to our care, as well as the common good of the broader community.

Thank you for all you are doing in this difficult situation.