Dear Parishioners of the Windsor Heritage Catholic Family of Parishes,
As you may be aware, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced new restrictions yesterday. These restrictions include the stipulation that as of Monday, Churches are once again limited to a maximum of 10 people for all Religious Services, regardless of whether that service takes place indoors our outdoors. This is a major departure from the most recent directive, which indicated that Indoor services could be held at 15% of capacity, and outdoor services could be held with virtually no limit, so long as appropriate distancing measures could be maintained.
This is certainly disappointing news for those of us who thought that we wouldn’t have to face the prospect of shutting down churches again. We had great hope just a few short weeks ago when Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, wrote to the Premier on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. In his letter, the Cardinal reminded the Premier them that Churches have enacted strict protocols to keep people safe, and asked that Churches be allowed to operate at a percentage of their maximum capacity, just as retail stores are allowed to. It was Cardinal Collins’ letter that caused the Province to relax restrictions on Churches in the lockdown zones, and allow them to operate at 15% of capacity. We had hoped that this was a recognition on the part of the Government that Churches provide an essential service to their Parishioners, but that hope appears to have been short lived.
It is truly saddening to me that I must come to you once again, and tell you that our churches must be closed due to the public health order. However, as Bishop Fabbro has said, it would be impossible to allow our Churches to remain open for Worship in a fair and equitable manner, when only 10 people, including the Priest, are allowed to be present. It’s also difficult for me to see families who have weddings or baptisms planned in the upcoming weeks struggle with making last minute adjustments to their plans, because of the reduced capacity. I am also saddened to see the effects of continued isolation and loneliness on members of our community- especially those who are in long term care homes, and who have not been able to visit with their family members for months now. Be assured that you are all in our prayers.
Now, more than ever during this second year of the Pandemic, we need our Faith to help us make sense of everything that is going on around us, and to give us a sense of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel- and that this pandemic, in the grand scheme of God’s plan, is but a momentary inconvenience. It is that hope that we must cling to, now more than ever, as we face yet another shutdown. It is that hope that will hopefully guide us through these difficult and challenging days in the midst of what should be a season of joy, as we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead. It is this hope that we can cling to that tells us that someday, this pandemic will be behind us.
While I firmly believe that Churches offer an essential service, and that we have demonstrated our ability to welcome parishioners safely into our churches, I also recognize that we need to seek out open and constructive ways to convey this message to our elected officials. We have all seen the negative press that is generated when Faith Leaders openly defy public health orders. At the end of the day, nothing is accomplished from that act of protest, and it only leaves people feeling angry. So, following the direction of Bishop Fabbro, the following directives will be put into place until the shutdown order is lifted.
This weekend, Masses will continue as scheduled. If you have made a reservation, you are able to attend Mass.
Beginning Monday, and throughout the duration of the public health order, we will continue to stream Masses as we have done in previous shutdowns.
The schedule will be:
- Daily Mass from Rosary Chapel Monday through Friday at 8 am
- The Sunday Liturgy in Italian from St. Angela Merici on Saturday at 4:30 pm
- The Sunday Liturgy in English from Assumption on Sunday at 9 am
During the shutdown, Confessions are to be held only in cases of serious need, subject to the Discretion of the Pastor. Baptisms and other celebrations of the Sacraments, such as First Eucharist and Confirmation, are also to be postponed, except for cases where there is a danger of death.
Please know that when making these decisions, the Bishop does not make them lightly. Please Join Bishop Fabbro in invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of our Diocese, and St. Joseph, the Patron of Canada, as we pray for an end to the pandemic, and the safety of all healthcare and front line essential workers.
Know that you will all be in our prayers during this time, and we look forward to the day when we can gather once again as the People of God.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB