DIOCESE OF SAINT JOHN
1 BAYARD DRIVE SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK
CANADA E2L 3L5
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
November 26, 2020
Dear priests and lay faithful of the Saint John and Fredericton Regions,
It was announced this afternoon, by the Province of New Brunswick that both Zones 2 and 3 are currently in the Orange Level of the recovery phase. In this level, a maximum of 50 persons can gather at Mass, and 25 persons for other physically distanced gatherings. Please note that masks/face coverings are mandatory for all activities.
With the limited numbers permitted for gatherings, some of the faithful may not be able to attend Mass this weekend, or in the weeks to come. Be assured that the dispensation from the Holy Obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is still in effect.
For parish priests and staff, travel in and out of these zones is not permitted at this time, except for medical reasons. Please consult the latest mandatory order for further information on regulations during this time.
Pastors, staff, pandemic protocol committees and volunteers, your commitment and added efforts during this trying time is to be commended. Your concern and charity toward others, their health and safety, is a witness of Christ’s love for His people.
As faithful, I encourage you to embrace hope in these difficult times. This is a time of disruption to our normal way of living; may we not allow it to be a distraction to our mission and vision as a Church,
This Sunday we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. The Advent Season is a season of hope, preparing us for Christmas and Christ’s coming into our world at the end of time. It is in this same hope that we entrust to Him all those who are ill and those on the front lines caring for them.
+ Christian Riesbeck, CC Bishop of Saint John
Diocese of Saint John Protocols
for the Public Celebration of Masses and Other Religious Services in the “Orange Level” of GNB Health and Safety Measures Addendum to Current Protocols
Dated May 15, 2020
Maximum 50 Persons at Mass
25 Persons for Weddings, Funerals, etc.
Mandatory Masks/Face coverings
In the current “Orange Level,” churches “can operate under a COVID-19 operational plan. In-person services are limited to 50 participants, or fewer depending upon the size of the facility, with two metres of physical distancing. Continuous mask wearing is required. No singing is permitted. Other indoor religious observances, funerals, celebrations of life, marriage ceremonies, receptions and social gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited.” (GNB- Orange Level, November 20, 2020)
If a parish has a separate hall, or a meeting space, a second gathering of maximum 50 is possible for that Mass. Separate entrances, exits, and washroom facilities are required to maintain separation from the two gatherings.
Contact tracing is required for all public gatherings. One contact per household or grouping is required (this may be provided by pre-registration or upon entry into the church). The contact information collected is to be stored for 21 days, after which it is to be destroyed. The personal information collected is to be used for contact tracing only and cannot be used or shared for any other purpose.
Parishioners are REQUIRED to wear masks/face coverings in parish churches, halls and offices for the duration of their stay. Face shields are not a substitute for masks/face coverings.
For the distribution of Holy Communion, parishioners are asked to approach the priest while wearing their mask. After receiving the host they are then to move to a designated spot, 2 meters away, to consume the host, replacing their mask fully before returning to their seat.
For the distribution of Holy Communion, the priest will be the only minister of Communion. No extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are to be used, unless the priest himself is not physically/medically able to distribute Communion. In this case, one extraordinary minister of Holy Communion can be appointed, following the same hygiene practices below. The priest will wash/sanitize his hands prior to distributing Communion. The Precious Blood is not to be distributed to the faithful.
Parishes are encouraged to have the distribution and reception of Holy Communion at the appropriate time during Mass. The priest is to purify and then sanitize his hands before distributing Communion to
the faithful. If the distribution of Holy Communion is not feasible during Mass (due to logistics of flow of traffic), Communion immediately following the closing blessing is possible.
Singing during the “Orange level” is not permitted. Only instrumental music is permitted. Wind instruments and cantors are not permitted during this phase.
Altar servers are not permitted.
Meetings in parishes are possible, maximum 25 persons, with strict two metre physical distancing, contact tracing and continuous wearing of mask/face coverings. If possible, please consider having meetings via a digital platform or conference call.
✠ Christian Riesbeck, CC
Bishop of Saint John
November 26, 2020