Michael Swan

Public Masses can begin June 12, but many Ontario dioceses take more cautious route

  • June 11, 2020

Despite the go-ahead to begin celebrating Mass on June 12, Ontario dioceses continue to take a cautious approach to re-opening churches.

Most dioceses will not celebrate the Eucharist with parishioners that day, or the Sunday Mass over the June 13-14 weekend. Instead, they will take time to prepare the extensive protocols put in place when Premier Doug Ford made his announcement about churches on June 8.

“Mindful that we are still in a period of pandemic, our goal is to ensure we can welcome the faithful and provide a safe environment for all,” said Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, in a statement for Toronto Catholics. “Recognizing these challenges and balancing them with the understandable desire of the faithful to return to their spiritual home, all parishes have been asked to adopt (an archdiocesan-wide timeline.)”

These will include preparation of parishes over June 12-13, opening the doors June 14, the feast of Corpus Christi, for private prayer and adoration, being available for private prayer June 15 and 16 and finally the resumption of daily Mass on June 17, with weekend Masses resuming June 20-21.

Other dioceses are putting similar measures in place, though in Peterborough Bishop Daniel Miehm has paved the way for daily Mass to begin June 16, as has Bishop Douglas Crosby in Hamilton. In Sault Ste. Marie, parishes may reopen churches as of June 20-21.

The Archdiocese of Kingston and two of Ontario’s smaller dioceses, Pembroke and St. Catharines, are allowing Mass to resume as soon as parishes have implemented safety measures, which include thorough hygienic cleansing, having sanitizer available, making sure they are able to maintain social distancing among parishioners and all other safety measures mandated by the province are in place.

“I am convinced that with the good work done to this stage, we will very soon be in a position to move forward in a safe and responsible way,” said Kingston Archbishop Michael Mulhall.

Other dioceses continue to formulate the re-opening policies and expect to release details in the coming days.

Meantime, bishops continue to provide dispensation for the Sunday Mass for those who are unable to attend due to health issues or capacity restrictions. The London diocese is also asking parishes that have been live-streaming Masses since the pandemic broke in mid-March to continue to do so for those unable to attend Mass.

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