Dear friends of Holy Family Parish,
This past Monday, June 8, Premier Ford made an announcement about the introduction of Phase 2 as the Province of Ontario begins to return to normal in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He made specific reference to places of worship which could open to 30% capacity by this coming Friday, June 12. Later on that Monday evening, Bishop Fabbro issued an announcement about the opening of parishes throughout the Diocese of London. The Bishop was very clear in stating that there are a number of re-entry protocols which need to be in place before our churches will open safely to our dear parishioners. He has not given permission for any parishes in Southwest Ontario to open this coming weekend, June 13/14. His letter can be found below this brief note. Here at Holy Family, we have a re-entry committee already working on the details necessary to be in place before we welcome any parishioners back into the building. It is possible that we will not be able to welcome anyone into Holy Family church until the end of June. If this changes, you can be sure that we will communicate our entire re-entry plan. After almost three months in isolation, there are many signs of hope for all of us. We pray that the Lord will keep all of us safe from contagion, and help us to speedily have in place all that we need to welcome friends ‘home’ to our worship space.
Devotedly yours in the Lord,
Fr. Bob Remark,
8 June 2020
To: The Faithful of the Diocese of London
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I pray that you and your families are safe and healthy during these challenging times.
Following Premier Ford’s announcement earlier today, I am happy to inform you that our Diocese is now beginning the process of reopening our churches. This is exciting news for us and all other faith communities in Ontario. The announcement, with the changes it makes to restrictions on gatherings, recognizes the importance of places of worship. We are grateful to Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton, the Minister designated to lead the coordination with faith communities during the pandemic.
With this news, I ask for your patience. We have been working hard to prepare for the reopening of our churches, but we will need some time to make sure our communities can worship safely.
As we move towards reopening as soon as possible, the following priorities guide our planning:
- The health and safety of the faithful, clergy, staff and volunteers;
- Proactive measures to avoid the potential of a second wave of this virus;
- Recognizing the basic commandment – love of God and of neighbour – we have a responsibility to care for one another and protect our communities.
Be assured that a detailed plan to reopen is now being finalized. We have not yet set a date, but it will be communicated as soon as we are ready. Many things need to be put in place before we can reopen, including adjusting church seating plans, and training clergy, lay ministers, staff and volunteers in how to be safe and keep our communities safe. We pray that these extraordinary measures will be temporary, but for this to be the case we must follow the advice of health authorities to minimize any potential transmission of the virus when we resume services.
I realize that not being able to celebrate Mass and not having access to the sacraments has been very painful for all of us. It has been encouraging to me to receive many messages from people who have used this time to grow spiritually as they found other ways to pray, worship online and be closer to God. I thank you, our people, and our priests and pastoral teams, for the remarkable efforts you have made to support one another in the faith over the past several months.
Given the capacity restrictions of 30% that are in place when we reopen our churches, parishes will continue to livestream Masses wherever possible, recognizing all will not be able to gather at this time. Because some people may be sick, have a compromised immune system, or feel uncomfortable returning to church, the dispensation of the obligation for Sunday Mass remains in effect until further notice.
Approaching these uncertain days with a spirit of kindness and generosity to one another will help us all as we navigate the path ahead. I continue to be inspired by the countless acts of goodwill and charity taking place throughout our Diocese.
May we continue to pray for the sick, those who have died during this pandemic and for those caring for them. Be assured of my gratitude for your patience and faithfulness during this closure period. You remain in my prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London