COVID-19 NEW DIRECTIVES

March 19, 2020

Since issuing the first directives for the Archeparchy of Winnipeg re the Coronavirus pandemic on 12 March 2020, the situation continues to worsen, forcing us to take drastic measures. In consultation with other Church officials we are issuing the following directives, effective Friday, 20 March 2020. Further spiritual reflections on this current crisis will be forthcoming.

GENERAL NORMS

1) We are to follow the regulations and directives of the pertinent civil authorities, public health officer and other medical sources given for the common good of society. Our directives are issued especially with due concern for the health and well-being of our clergy and faithful.

2) Particular care is to be given in keeping all spaces and objects clean and sanitized.

3) Special attention is to be placed on avoiding physical contact with other persons, keeping advised distances (social distancing) from other persons (at least two meters), avoiding coughing, sneezing, speaking close to, and breathing upon other persons. These precautions are to be maintained in liturgical services as well.

4) In keeping with current civil directives for the Province of Manitoba, all gatherings are restricted to less than 50 persons. This number will likely be further restricted. This restriction applies to all gatherings as well in our churches and on church property.

LITURGICAL SERVICES

5) Following upon the civil restriction concerning the gatherings of persons, all Sunday and Feast Day Divine Liturgies are hereby closed to the public. This means that priests are to celebrate these liturgies with limited assistants, such as a cantor, for the given intentions, especially for the parish, the sick and deceased. The faithful are dispensed from the canonical obligation to attend Sunday and Feast Day Liturgies.

6) The same restriction applies to other liturgical functions, including the Lenten services and weekday liturgies. The clergy are to conduct these liturgical services, especially for the spiritual benefit of the faithful, but only with limited assistants. All Lenten Missions are cancelled.

7) Special Instructions will be given separately for liturgical services for Holy Week and Easter.

8) Parishes should use electronic means to transmit liturgical services, including "live stream", and other uses of the internet. Prerecorded services, homilies, catechesis and other similar presentations can be made available via "You Tube" or other social media platforms. We hope to give further updates as to available programing via the internet, especially from within the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. Liturgies are also transmitted from Ukraine. In Canada a daily Roman Catholic Mass is offered on Canadian TV networks.

9) Funerals may continue to be conducted in churches and funeral homes according to local regulations. Gathering restrictions must be followed, in consultation with relatives of the deceased. Persons who are at risk should not attend. Some families may request immediate burial with a Panaxyda and interment rites at the gravesite. At this time, unless a Divine Liturgy is deemed essential, the funeral service should consist of the Parastas and/or Panaxyda.

A memorial liturgy can be planned for a later date. Public receptions following a funeral are not to take place, especially on church property.

10) Marriages/ Crowning, where possible, should be postponed to a later date. If taking place during the pandemic, gathering restrictions must be followed. Those who are at risk should not attend. Public receptions following a marriage are not to take place, especially on church property.

11) Baptism and Chrismation / Rites of Initiation where possible, should be postponed to a later date. If taking place during the pandemic, participation is restricted to the immediate family and sponsors, according to the gathering restrictions. Those who are at risk should not attend. For the prayers of exorcism, the priest is not to breath over the candidate. This can be replaced by the waving of the hand over the candidate.

12) Sacrament of Reconciliation /Confession will continue to be made available to the faithful, but on an individual basis. Group preparations, including Lenten Missions, are suspended. Pastors should indicate to the faithful when they are available in church for Confessions. A practical distance of 2 meters (6 feet or 2 chair lengths) should be maintained between the penitent and the priest. Confessions are to take place in an open space. Safe environment precautions continue to be required, e.g. no confessions in a closed room, especially with minors.

13) Ministry to the Sick and Shut-Ins continues but within the health directives of hospitals, health care facilities and private homes. While providing spiritual support to those in need, clergy are to avoid situations where they too can become carriers of the virus and thus endanger others. Precautions are to be taken when administering the Sacramental Mysteries of Holy Communion, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, as outlined elsewhere in these Directives.

14) Distribution of Holy Communion

-i- The priest must wash his hands thoroughly before beginning the preparation of the Gifts at the Proskomide (Prothesis). He also should sanitize his hands before the fraction of the Eucharistic Bread during the Divine Liturgy ("Holy Things for the Holy").

-ii- Only the main celebrant is to drink from the Eucharistic Chalice, while other clergy are to "Intinct" the Eucharistic Bread into the chalice.

-iii- All clergy are to refrain from saying the reception formula aloud when distributing the Holy Eucharist to the faithful, to avoid breathing or spraying saliva onto the face of the recipient.

-iv- Use of wooden single-use utensils (e.g. wands, flat sticks] are permitted for the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful. Such wooden utensils are to be used one per person, and then cleansed after the Liturgy like the communion spoon. These wooden utensils are to be burnt within a week after usage.

-v- If the church is to be open for individual visits by the faithful at prearranged times, the clergy may distribute Holy Communion to the faithful, following the above norms.

-vi- Distribution of the Holy Eucharist to the sick and shut-ins can be done with wooden utensils, following the norms given above. Washing hands before and after each visit is a high priority.

SANITARY NORMS

15) Clergy and others assisting around the altar must wash their hands thoroughly before and after ever liturgical service.

16) Clergy and laity must refrain from shaking hands and any other forms of body contact within the church. Keeping a distance between persons is also important.

17) Holy Water containers are to be emptied and covered, including those at church entrances.

18) Veneration of icons, the gospel book, crosses and crucifixes, reliquaries and any other church items by kissing, touching or any other means is to be halted.

19) Chalices, other sacred vessels, hand crosses, gospel books and similar items are to be washed with sanitizers or warm soapy water. Purificators, towels and other linen are to be replaced with fresh ones after each liturgy.

20) All books and other movable items should be taken from church seating and stored until further notice.

21) Door handles, bannisters, pew tops, counters and other areas frequently touched inside and outside churches are to be sanitized. Washrooms especially are to be kept sanitized.

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

During this time of trial let us raise our prayers to the Lord, Physician of our body and soul, for the spiritual strength and bodily health so much needed in these days. May He help us through his peace to overcome our anxiety and fear. Through the prayers of the Mother of God and all the saints.

In Christ,

Most Rev. Lawrence Huculak OSBM

Archeparch of Winnipeg

Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada

 


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