COVID-19 Considerations


COVID-19 Considerations

New Directives - Letter from the Archbishop, June 18, 2020

The Archbishop has sent us a letter detailing the intricacies, necessities, and frustrations of the loosening of restrictions.

Key points:

  • The numbers allowed at services of worship, including Catholic Masses, has risen significantly. We are now allowed to gather up to a third of the normal capacity of churches, up to a maximum of 150, but with the following stipulations:
    • Up to five groups of 30 people.
    • Each of those groups must be separated by 5 metres.
    • Within each group of 30, we still need to keep a physical distance of 2 metres between families or individuals.
  • No parish facility in the archdiocese has this kind of space without also using halls, meeting rooms, and other spaces.
  • Of course those with health risks, the elderly, and anyone who is not yet comfortable gathering in a public place at this stage of the pandemic, are free to remain at home.
  • The dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass remains in place.
  • Faith leaders have been invited to make decisions for their congregations, and as Archbishop, I in turn entrust local pastors, in dialogue with their parish councils and drawing on our archdiocesan guidelines, to make decisions and take appropriate steps in each parish. We need to make those decisions with public safety and care for the most vulnerable ever in mind. (St. Martin's - put together by Father Peter and the Liturgy Committee - are below under 'Liturgy Committee Meeting regarding the slow re-opening of the parish.')
  • Bishop Don cautions:
    • First, given the physical distancing directives from the chief medical officer and government, it is more helpful and more realistic for us to think in terms of how many groups of 30 (or fewer in smaller churches) we can safely accommodate, rather than to think in terms of 150 at the outset.
    • Second, have a plan for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces touched by parishioners prior to and after each Mass, a seating arrangement, and a plan for entering and exiting the church.
    • Third, and most difficult of all in terms of giving communion, when people come within 2 m of each other, both need to be wearing masks.
  • The letter also speaks to those unhappy with the current situation. Please take the time to read it, or to watch it - it's also Bishop Don's Weekly Message for June 18, 2020.

Liturgy Committee Meeting regarding the slow re-opening of the parish

The minutes of this meeting include a protocol for all attending:

  • A checklist will be made available to all those assigned to attend and will be posted in the church to confirm those in attendance have met the requirements
  • Everyone to hand sanitize when entering
  • Parishioners are to seat themselves respecting the social distancing requirement with exception of those who live in the same household
  • There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood
  • There will be no personal contact during sign of peace
  • Everyone to hand sanitize before receiving communion
  • Reader will not be required to wear a mask
  • Communion will be distributed via non contact as the Sacrament will be placed on a table in a pyx or other suitable container by Father Peter for the Parishioners to individually receive. The Parishioner will take the “contacted” container to another table for later re-sanitizing, etc.
  • Collection basket will be left at the back of the church along with forms for auto debit
  • Father Peter will be wearing a mask through the Mass
  • Any Parishioners who wish can also wear masks
  • Washroom will be closed and not available
  • Waste baskets will be open top non-contact with a box of tissue available
  • All surfaces in the church will be cleaned and sanitized before each Mass by the caretaking staff

Updates from the Archdiocese regarding Re-Opening

We have been advised that we can open our church to mass, beginning Pentecost weekend, May 30 and 31. There are still some restrictions, as noted on the Home page. Further information can be found in the letter from Archbishop Daniel Bolen.

Some key points from the letter:

The directives from the Archdiocese have been prepared with the following principles in mind:

  • Spiritual and sacramental life of all people is a vital part of our existence as church.
  • The care for the physical health of all people is vital.
  • Understanding how the Covid-19 virus spreads, and the timeline of the virus within an individual, is important for preventing and tracking the disease it causes. A person may have, and transmit, the virus without any symptoms.
  • Following the directives and recommendations of the Saskatchewan Health Authority is mandatory.

These guidelines must be met by every parish that wishes to open for Eucharistic gatherings, prayer, or any other form of devotions or sacramental ministry.

The return to gatherings in churches will require new habits and new ways of being present in a church. All people can help provide confidence in moving our churches forward into future phases of reopening if we show kindness, patience, and charity towards each other.

People considered to be vulnerable and more high-risk for contracting Covid-19 will likely choose not to attend Mass or go to a church at this time. All people need to be treated with respect, compassion, and without judgement, as to whether they choose to physically go to church or not.

Consultation continues regarding the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation originally scheduled for Easter and late Spring, and for larger gatherings in churches.

Phase I - Current

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in place as granted by Archbishop Don Bolen in March.

Certain sacraments may take place in our churches at this time as long as guidelines linked with each one are met.

Offices may be open in a limited way, as determined by the parish.

Local health directives:

  • No more than 10 people may gather in one place at a time.
  • Individuals who do not live in the same household must maintain 2 metres distancing between each other at all times.
  • Participants should limit contact with surfaces, and all surfaces should be sanitized when the gathering ends.

Cleaning instructions for public places must be strictly followed. Parishes must use an approved disinfecting solution.

Phase II - beginning May 30

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in place.

Directives from Phase I continue to apply in Phase II.

Weekday and weekend Eucharistic Celebrations may expand to include up to 10 people (including the priest and others providing ministry) following Archdiocesan directives. Local parishes have received detailed instructions with respect to liturgical celebrations and cleaning guidelines.

Phase III - TBA

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in place.

Directives from Phase I will continue to apply in Phase III unless otherwise noted at that time.

Eucharistic celebrations may expand to include more people, in compliance with the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

Perseverance to you all. The Lord is with us. Trust in Him.


Limited Re-opening

In a letter of May 13, 2020, the Archbishop has said:

"After much discussion and discernment, and provided that our situation remains stable within the Archdiocese, we have made the decision to allow Masses of up to 10 persons in our parishes beginning on the weekend of Pentecost at the end of this month. Detailed directives about how we are to proceed will be made available early next week."

Also: "The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in place during this time when numbers are restricted by government and health authorities."

There is more information in the letter, but re-opening is still contingent on future decisions. Please watch for further information. Until then, we will continue as stated below, under Update from Father Peter.

Archbishop Don speaks about this in his weekly message.

May 8: From the Archdiocese:

"As the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan moves forward, Archbishop Don, following discussions with the Council of Priests and keeping the importance of both the spiritual and physical health of everyone in southern Saskatchewan in mind, has established a working group in this regard. The working group will discern how and when the opening of churches, including the celebration of Mass, will happen. This group will make recommendations to the Council of Priests at their meeting on May 13th and we hope to be able to follow in a timely matter with some public announcements on moving forward. "

Update from the Archdiocese regarding Sacraments

The sacraments of initiation which were to have taken place at Easter Vigil have to be postponed, as do Confirmation and First Eucharist celebrations. Directives and guidelines regarding baptisms, marriages, and funerals will be completed soon.

Please check the Archdiocese of Regina website regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Church and Sacramental Guidelines for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Update from Father Peter

Recognizing the seriousness of COVID-19 and the need for people to stay home and away from public places, St. Martin's church will be open to the public for private prayer and devotion Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon. The Blessed Sacrament will NOT be presented for adoration.

Please enter by the front doors of the church. We kindly ask that all who enter be conscientious of the need to keep our parish sanitized and disinfected so please stay within the designated areas. The gathering area at the back entrance is closed to the public.

NOTE: Due to restrictions placed by the province, we must limit the number of people in the church to 10 people at a time. Please come back at a different time if we have already reached this limit when you arrive.

Violating these restrictions may result in a fine. Thank you for your cooperation.

Even though Mass is suspended to the public, please know that Fr. Peter still offers a private Mass each day for your intentions. Please join Father Peter spiritually in the Mass intentions.

For the Sacrament of Confessions (by the organ) and the Anointing of the Sick (in case of emergency only), please contact Fr. Peter at 306-586-0060 for an appointment.

May we join together in prayers and support one another.

God bless you and keep you.

Father Peter Pham

Update from Archbishop Don Bolen

As of Friday, March 20, 2020, Sunday and Weekday Masses are hereby suspended until further notice. We will be constantly monitoring the situation and issuing updates accordingly.

Further, in keeping with the Code of Canon Law no. 87, I grant to all the Catholic faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation until further notice.

Recognizing that the celebration of the Eucharist lies at the very heart of our spiritual lives, a roster of clergy, including the Archbishop, will celebrate daily and Sunday Masses from Resurrection Parish in Regina to be livestreamed available at the following link: https://livestream.com/accounts/17094656.

More in his letter of March 18, 2020.

You can also check for updates on COVID-19 considerations on the Archdiocese COVID-19 Updates page.

Together in Crisis

Letter from the Parish Council

***

Please check out our new Parish Community page, an effort to keep the community together. We'll try to keep it up to date as items come in.

***

Please don't forget to support St. Martin's Parish through these difficult times. We still need your donations, even now. There are a number of ways to donate without physical contact.

***

During this time of social isolation, let's care for each other by connecting with others who might be lonely with a phone call. Let's spread Jesus' love as far and wide as we can.

***

The Archdiocese is looking for Good Samaritans who would be willing to run errands, as needed, for those who are ill or quarantined. See below for more information.


Inspiration and Prayer

Father Peter encourages all parishioners to pray from home. Livestreamed masses can be found on our Home Page. Below are some other resources for inspiration and prayer.

Archdiocese of Regina Prayers and Devotions page

Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Pope Francis encourages small acts of love during coronavirus quarantine (Catholic News Agency)

Prayers For The Sick, And Those Suffering From COVID-19 (Catholic Digest)

Our very own Nancy and Nolan Wirges have put the Spiritual Communion prayer to music and images on YouTube.



Request for Help

The Archdiocese is looking for Good Samaritans who would be willing to run errands, as needed, for those who are ill or quarantined. The efforts would be coordinated through the Archdiocese of Regina Samaritan Project. There would be no contact with people who are quarantined or ill, as all deliveries would be left on the doorsteps.

We need volunteers in all areas of Southern Saskatchewan. It would be required that the volunteers pay for the items up front (to a maximum of $50), and would be reimbursed when the items are delivered (via cash, cheque, or e-transfer). The Archdiocese of Regina will monitor things closely, to ensure that neither volunteer nor participant are taken advantage of.

The Archdiocese of Regina fully respects our government’s request for social distancing at this time. It will be the expectation that the volunteer would do this in the safest and quickest way possible, without compromising their health or the health of others.

If you are willing to serve in this way, please register ASAP at www.regpacks.com/ArchReginaHelps.

More information on the Archdiocese of Regina Outreach page.