Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Cardinal Collins. Michael Swan

Volunteers who ensure safe church openings recognized

  • November 13, 2020

Cardinal Thomas Collins recognized the thousands of volunteers across the vast Archdiocese of Toronto who have ensured a safe re-opening of churches during the COVID-19 pandemic with a special Mass of gratitude Nov. 4.

Toronto’s archbishop took a moment to acknowledge the faithful who have served tirelessly in various capacities to ensure that  protocols put forward by the archdiocese in accordance with public health guidelines were being followed for parishes to safely resume in-person services. 

“Today I’ll be offering this Mass for the intention of all of those countless volunteers in our parishes who during this terrible time of pandemic have so generously given themselves to the service of our whole community,” said Collins. “This Mass is for them and for their intentions and praying the Lord’s blessing upon them and in thanksgiving for their generous service to all of us during this time of pandemic.”

Over the past six months services have been able to resume without any further closures due in large part to the help of volunteers across the archdiocese, seen and unseen, who’ve helped foster a safe environment for all. From those making sure hygiene measures are being practised to those helping to ensure the livestream of services continues for those still unable to engage in-person due to capacity restrictions, volunteers have stepped up in various ways to continue the work of the Church through unprecedented times.

In June, the provincial government announced it would allow for the re-opening of places of worship with physical distancing measures in place and gatherings limited to 30-per-cent capacity. Adopting a phased approach, the archdiocese outlined the protocols and the training of clergy, staff and volunteers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Guidelines were also given to ensure appropriate cleaning supplies, signage and capacity control policies would be implemented.

In a live-streamed press conference shortly after the re-opening announcement, Collins described the three months of closure in the spring as “spiritually painful” for Catholics who, while constrained to online services, were unable to partake in the sacraments.

“We have an extremely thorough, very well-thought plan for (re-opening). We are ready,” said Collins at the time. The proof is in the success of being able to hold in-person Masses without the spread of the coronavirus.

The Mass of gratitude for volunteers took place on the memorial of St. Charles Borromeo who in the midst of corruption and turmoil in the 16th centurey, Collins said, “gave his whole life to the people he served.”

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