We are living in extraordinary times. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic. It has affected every aspect of our daily lives.
As of today, the Government of Alberta has now declared a state of emergency under the Public Health Act. New public health measures are now recommended to limit the time Albertans spend in large crowds and crowded spaces. Effective immediately, all events over 50 people are to be cancelled.
Our primary concern must always be to care for the spiritual, physical, mental, and well-being of our fellow parishioners and citizens, many of whom are seniors and those at greater risk. Therefore, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following liturgical norms are to be followed:
- All Divine Liturgies are suspended until further notice.
- Faithful are encouraged to follow the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on weekends via livestream or recording on the internet. On Sundays, Saint Josaphat Cathedral (Edmonton) will livestream liturgical services (stjosaphat.ab.ca), and Saint Stephen Parish (Calgary) will post a recorded Divine Liturgy on their website (saintstephencalgary.ca). Please note, these are closed to the public.
- All Lenten liturgical services and Lenten Missions are cancelled. The faithful are directed to the Eparchy of Edmonton’s website (eeparchy.com) where they will find videos and materials to help grow spiritually in their Lenten journey.
- All penitential liturgical services are cancelled. Priests are available to hear individual confessions upon request or during posted hours. Confessions will take place in an open space (for example, before the Icon of Christ at the Iconostas), and not in the confessional. Consult local parishes for hours.
- Funerals may continue to be celebrated in our churches and in funeral homes. In consultation with the relatives of the deceased, the number of attendees should be limited to 50 people. Some families may choose immediate interment, followed by a memorial funeral service at a later date. Public receptions following the funeral are not to take place.
- Children preparing for Solemn Communion and First Reconciliation are to receive instruction by parents in their own homes. Catechists can assist parents with the preparation of lessons and materials.
- Upon request, priests are available to visit the sick and shut-ins who request the Divine Eucharist, Confession or the Sacrament of the Sick. In every case, they are expected to practice appropriate risk mitigation.
- Churches are to remain open, where possible, for some time to allow for private prayer. Consult local parishes for hours.
- Further liturgical norms on Holy Week are forthcoming.
- Pray. Pray. Pray.
As things evolve, we will provide further liturgical norms as deemed necessary. Let us do what we do best as the people of God, let us pray.
† Bishop David Motiuk