COVID-19 – UPDATES

ELECTRONIC MEDIA – MASS & READINGS

As difficult as it may be not attending Mass and Prayers in person, there are numerous options available (as publicized by the Cardinal) as shown below. Please click on any of the buttons to take you to the respective website which shows the videos.

Live Stream Mass – St. Michael’s Cathedral

The faithful will be able to watch, via livestream, a Mass which will be celebrated every day at 7:30 a.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, which will be followed by the Angelus and the Rosary. Often celebrated by Thomas Cardinal Collins


Vision TV – Daily TV Mass

The Daily TV Mass is taped each week on Tuesday/ Wednesday/ Thursday at 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm at the Loretto Abbey Chapel in Toronto. If you are in the neighbourhood, please feel free to join our congregation.   


Salt and Light – Daily TV Mass

Salt + Light Media is pleased to provide its viewers the Daily TV Mass produced by the National Catholic Broadcasting Council four times a day at 6:30 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm and 10:30 pm (all times Eastern Standard Time).


EWTN – Daily Mass & Readings

Can’t make it to Holy Mass? EWTN offers the daily readings to enable viewers to accompany the Mass of the day as it is televised.


YouTube – Archdiocese of Toronto

Mass, Rosary and Angelus will also be available on the Archdiocese of Toronto’s YouTube channel for those who cannot join at 7:30 a.m. These Masses and prayers will be offered for the intentions of everyone as we go through these trying times. 


FORMED.ORG

In the modern world we live in, most (if not all) media is now consumed digital. Gone are the days, when one waited for a time slotted program to show on TV. Media Content is now consumed – When we want to! Where we want to! How we want to! Period.

LETTERS FROM THE CARDINAL & PASTOR

Following are the letters from the Cardinal and Father Oliver Iwuchukwu. Click on the date to view the letter published on that date.

April 16, 2021: Extended Stay-at-home order: Update from the Archdiocese

To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

Late this afternoon, the provincial government announced further restrictions to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, given the alarming increase in new cases over the past 10 days. The new measures have a direct impact on places of worship as part of an extended stay-at-home order, which will be in place until at least May 20, 2021.

As you are likely aware, the number of new cases, especially in Toronto, Peel and York, has increased dramatically. While I firmly believe we offer an essential service and have demonstrated our ability to welcome the faithful safely given our stringent WorshipSafe measures, we must also recognize the serious nature of the current situation and respond out of love for our neighbour.

Restrictions for All Parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto as of Monday, April 19, 2021

  • Parishes must restrict attendance inside the church to 10 people, including priests hearing confessions or a staff member/volunteer required to monitor capacity restrictions. Due to these measures, public Masses must be temporarily cancelled. Priests are asked to celebrate private Mass daily for the intentions of parishioners and for those suffering from COVID-19.
     
  • Churches, wherever possible and according to the judgement of the pastor, are encouraged to remain open for private prayer and for the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Parishes may also proceed with Holy Communion services on Saturday afternoon/evening or Sunday as in the past, if desired. Weddings, funerals and baptisms are restricted to 10 persons, including those who are involved in ministry (priest, cantor, etc.). First Holy Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmations should be postponed at this time. Please consult with your local parish as they develop their own plans in the coming days.
     
  • Virtual meetings should replace in-person meetings wherever possible. Parish offices will be operating with essential staff only – many will have extremely limited operating hours or conducting administrative business remotely. Once again, please consult with your local parish.
     
  • Given the alarming increase in new cases in recent days, people who are elderly, those with compromised immune systems or other health conditions are strongly encouraged to remain home. Livestreaming of services will continue where this practice is underway and the dispensation from the Sunday Eucharist remains. A full list of livestream services can be accessed here.

I very much recognize the significant stress and anxiety that many people are feeling given the current situation and the frustration and spiritual pain inflicted by these restrictions over the past year. Be assured of my prayers as we face these challenging days. Please continue to pray for all those who are sick and those caring for them.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Sincerely in Christ,

Cardinal Thomas Collins Signature

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto


January 13, 2021: Stay-at-home order: Update from the Archdiocese

Dear Parishioner

The stay-at-home order instituted by the province yesterday comes into effect tomorrow. Some of us have been wondering how these latest restrictions will impact on what we do in our place of worship.

The Cardinal has asked “churches, that are able to do so safely, to continue to remain open for private prayer and, where feasible, to offer Holy Communion Services on weekends.

In the light of this, I am happy to inform you that we will continue with what we are doing here in our church until there is some information to the contrary.  This is to say:

  1. Our parish church will be open every week, Monday to Saturday, from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. for Eucharistic Adorationand the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  2. The church will be open every Saturday evening and Sunday morning for Holy Communion Services.
    • The Saturday evening Services will begin at 4.00 p.m. There will be a service about every 20 minutes. The last service will begin at 5.40 p.m.
    • The Sunday morning Services will begin at 9.00 p.m. There will be a Service every 20 minutes. The last Service will begin at 11.40 a.m.

Please don’t forget that

  1. Due to Provincial restrictions, only 10 people are allowed in the building at a time.
  2. Attendance will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
  3. Social distancing,  masks and sanitizing hands are mandatory inside the Church
  4. We are not allowed to gather in groups in the parking lot where we will also be required to practice social distancing and wear our masks.

Please stay safe; stay at home unless you have a pressing need to go outside.  We must do all we can to make this pandemic a thing of the past.

With my every best wish, as always, for God abundant blessings.

Fr. Oliver Iwuchukwu


November 21, 2020: Public Masses Temporarily Cancelled

My dear parishioner,

I want to thank you and all our parishioners for your ongoing support of our parish family during this period of great uncertainty. It has been wonderful to see so many of you at Mass since we re-opened in June. We all are very grateful to our many volunteers (Greeters, Ushers and Cleaners) who have been doing everything possible to ensure that our church is a safe place to gather for worship

As you know, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Greater Toronto Area has increased significantly in recent days. At present, Toronto and Peel Regions are in the Lockdown Stage as identified by the Province of Ontario. In addition, Premier Ford announced yesterday special emergency measures that need to be taken in our area.

For this reason, beginning on Monday, November 23rd, we will be restricting attendance inside the church to 10 people, including the priest/priests who may be hearing confessions and a staff member/volunteer monitoring capacity restrictions. Sadly, due to these measures, there will be no public Masses until there is information to the contrary. Fr. Tony and I will continue to celebrate private Mass daily in the Chapel for the intentions of our parishioners and for those suffering from Covid-19.

Our church will remain open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m. for private prayer and for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those who may need to go to Confession. There will be an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for as long as the church is open.

We pray and hope that you continue to view online/livestream/televised Masses. A full list of these is available at www.archtoronto.org. This, of course, is not a substitute for attending Mass in person but it is the best we can do to keep our faith alive during this trying time.

Despite these new restrictions, we will do our best to continue our outreach to you. We also ask that, whenever you have the chance, you reach out, in whatever safe ways you can, to those who are vulnerable or alone among us.

We pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. May God continue to bless you now and always

Fr. Oliver Iwuchukwu CSSp

Pastor


November 19, 2020: Message from Cardinal Collins

By the direction of Cardinal Collins:

  1. By Tuesday November 24, 2020, parishes must restrict attendance at all liturgical celebrations (Mass, Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, First Holly Communion, Confirmation, etc.). to 50 worshipers in the entire building, excluding those who are involved in ministry (priest, cantor, ushers, etc.). Please continue to ensure strict adherence to sanitization, distancing and other measures as outlines in our protocols. Parish halls may not be used to accommodate additional parishioners at the same time as a Mass in the Church.
  2. No meetings should take place in parish halls or other church spaces at this time. The only exception would be those deemed as essential services ie. A.A., etc. These meetings should be restricted to 10 people and ensure that all appropriate health and safety measures are in place (use of masks, hand sanitizer, physical distancing, etc.) Virtual meetings should replace in-person meetings wherever possible.
  3. Parish offices should move to Phase 2 – Limited Operations.

May 27, 2020: Update from the Archdiocese of Toronto

The decision to close our parish churches on March 24, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic was a very difficult one and we recognize the tremendous spiritual sacrifice of the faithful during this time. We also want to do all that we can to minimize the potential spread of Covid-19 in our community.
We know that you have questions and are anxious to return to your local parish. This update will let you know where we are at present and what we’ve been doing to prepare for the days ahead.

Q. How is the Archdiocese of Toronto preparing for re-opening?
A. Four archdiocesan task forces have been addressing the following pandemic-related issues:

  1. Re-opening of churches;
  2. Re-opening of offices;
  3. Financial implications and related issues; and
  4. Best practices that can be implemented post-pandemic.

We are also working closely with the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO) to offer dioceses and churches a consistent approach to re-opening across the province. All this work has been done in consultation with health and safety experts. We’ve held virtual town halls with our clergy and staff, to keep them appraised of our plans along the way. Pastors have been communicating directly with the faithful in a variety of ways – through the parish website, by mail, text, phone and through social media. Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, has provided regular updates to the faithful. T

hese and other Covid-19 related resources can be accessed by visiting: www.archtoronto.org/covid19. You can subscribe to receive these updates if you’re not already receiving them.

Q. Why not re-open the churches now?
A. Throughout this process, we have been part of conversations and meetings with all levels of government to advocate for re- opening places of worship as soon as it is safe to do so. We’ve also discussed the unique nature of our worship spaces, how we plan to create a safe environment for the faithful and we’ve shared our draft plans for re-opening. While we would all like to re-open right away, we must do so thoughtfully and responsibly, as we do everything possible to ensure the safety of all. As Cardinal Collins wrote in his May 7 statement to the faithful, “We should also recall that we Christians defend the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death: in a time of pestilence, that commitment of ours requires us to follow the reasonable norms designed to protect the lives of those around us.

Q. I understand the Province of Ontario has amended its Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, to allow for drive-in religious services. Can we have an outdoor Mass at my parish?
A. The amendment was passed, however, it contains several restrictions which would not make the celebration of Holy Mass feasible. Parking lot Masses are not permitted in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Q. When will we re-open churches?
A. That is the question on everyone’s minds. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a firm date at this time. We rely on the direction of the top health officials in our province who have expertise in pandemic planning. Once they indicate it is safe to do so, we will re-open churches when we are confident that parishes can provide a safe environment for the faithful. We are planning for a phased re- opening, similar to what is being done in churches around the world.

Q. What will it look like when we re- open churches?
A. The re-opening period will require a number of changes from our pre-pandemic operations. We anticipate that capacity limits will be necessary once churches re-open, beginning with smaller numbers and increasing as it is safe to do so. Physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet) measures will also be introduced and our desire to socialize as a faith community will be limited for a period of time. Enhanced worship space cleaning measures will also be required at and before every Mass. These require significant supplies and volunteers to ensure they are implemented properly. We are working with experts to finalize the specific measures that will be required.

Q. How about weddings, funerals and baptisms? What is the status of these sacramental celebrations?
A. Weddings and baptisms can proceed at present but are limited by the guidelines of local health authorities to 5 people including the celebrant. Funerals continue with a limit of 10 people. We recognize these numbers create anxiety and frustration for many people. We anticipate as churches begin to re- open these numbers will increase. However at this time, we cannot give an indication of what those numbers will be and when they can happen.

Q. What about First Communion and Confirmation celebrations for children of sacramental age that are scheduled to take place around this time of year?
A. These celebrations are not able to take place at this time. Whether these are re- scheduled to the fall or to a date in 2021 is largely dependent on how soon we are able to return to church in greater numbers. We will continue to keep you informed as plans are finalized.

Q. What about candidates for Baptism or reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church that were scheduled to take place at the Easter Vigil?
A. The Baptism of candidates or their reception into the Catholic Church can take place on an individual basis within the limits imposed by the health authorities, of 5 people, including the minister. Alternatively, these liturgical celebrations should be the focus of attention when churches re-open.

Q. Where is Mass televised/offered online?
A. While we recognize it is not the same as attending Mass at your local church, there are many opportunities to watch daily or Sunday Mass. Visit www.archtoronto.org/covid19 and click on “Watch the Mass” – you’ll find options for daily Mass with Cardinal Collins from St. Michael’s Cathedral as well as links to parish celebrations offered each Sunday (or in some cases more frequently). The daily televised Mass, produced by the National Catholic Broadcasting Council, airs on a number of networks including Salt & Light Catholic Television, YesTV and VisionTV. Consult your local listings or visit www.DailyTVMass.com for a full schedule. While public Masses are currently suspended, priests across the Archdiocese of Toronto celebrate daily Mass – be assured that your parish priest is praying for you daily throughout this period of pandemic.

Q, How can I help?
A. As noted, we will need significant volunteer assistance as we re-open churches. If you would like to offer your time and talents to assist at your local parish, please contact them and let them know you’d like to help and your availability. You can also visit: www.archtoronto.org/covid19 to learn about additional volunteer opportunities with local charities. We’ve also been heartened by the many parishioners who have asked how they can continue to financial support their parish. A number of donation options are available including credit card, pre-authorized giving or dropping off your donation at the parish office. You can learn more about financially supporting your parish by visiting: www.archtoronto.org/covid19/Pages/support .aspx

Thank You
We recognize this is a particularly challenging time for all. Thank you for your patience during this period of closure. Know that we are working tirelessly to prepare and create a safe environment for you and your loved ones. We want to welcome you back as soon as it is safe to do so! Please join us in praying for all those who are sick and those who have died during this time of pandemic. We also remember in our prayers those caring for the ill, our health care professionals and the countless front line workers labouring during these difficult days. We will continue to keep you updated as plans evolve.


April 6, 2020: Catholic Response to COVID-19

Dear faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

Each year, in this most holy week, we follow Jesus from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through the institution of the great gift of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, and His suffering and death on Good Friday, to His glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday. As disciples of Jesus, we see in the drama of those days long ago the model of our life today, for our life is a way of the cross leading through suffering to glory, in the footsteps of Jesus.

Christians have always prepared for the glory of Easter with the austere penitential discipline of Lent, but this Lent has been like no other in recent memory. The global Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of our human condition in this valley of tears, through which we journey home to the heavenly Father. It has shattered the illusion that our human will is in control of the world in which we briefly live.

Our society has even conditioned us to deny or to mask the reality of death, but that reality cannot be evaded in a pandemic. In addition, the measures needed to protect others have forced so many of us to put aside distractions of our busy-ness, and to enter a solitude that can either drive us to frustration, or lead us to more profound insight and greater compassion.

In the midst of this storm Jesus is, as always, the way, the truth, and the life, and He offers us the grace to use this crisis to discover a deeper wisdom about the human condition, and to move from that insight into greater love of God and neighbour, especially when so many of our neighbours are suffering. A faith that is purified in the fire of tribulation impels us to reach out in loving prayer and responsible action, instead of collapsing into selfishness and anger. The choice is ours.

In the pandemic emergency, love of neighbour has required that we take the extreme, and ultimately unsustainable, step of temporarily suspending the communal dimension of our sacramental life. But the Word became flesh, and Jesus died for us on a real, not a virtual, cross. That is what Good Friday is all about. Even apart from the sublime experience of ultimate reality which we are granted through supernatural faith, and through our sacramental life, the ordinary, natural, life-enhancing human relationships of love cannot be replaced by the dry abstractions of modern technology.

Meanwhile, however, as we seek to protect our neighbours by staying home, and so hasten the day when we can once more relate fully as humans again, we are thankful for the technological tools that can creatively be used to do the best we can to reach out in love for neighbour, and to help us to grow in love of God.

Even though it is not possible for the faithful to be present physically, every day every priest celebrates the Holy Eucharist for them, and every day I offer the Holy Eucharist in the cathedral. Livestreaming of many of these sacramental celebrations allows the most participation that is possible in our current situation. Until you can participate in person, I invite you to connect in that way.

Our priests are also finding many innovative ways to continue to serve their parishioners and many parishioners are reaching out to those most affected in this crisis. I know you’ll be inspired by these Parish Initiatives.

Ultimately, our parishes rely on the support of the faithful and I am grateful to all those who have been so generous. If you are unable to do so given the current reality, please pray for all those who continue the important outreach and ministry in your parish community.

Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter

The most sacred time of the year is upon us. Even though our churches are closed, our priests will preside at the sacred liturgies of Holy Week and Easter in every parish, adapted to the restrictions required at this time. I invite you to learn more about our Holy Week celebrations in the archdiocese here: Holy Week.

Holy Week liturgies will also be celebrated in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael. The schedule and livestream for the celebrations are found here: Cathedral Liturgies. For those without access to the internet, you can also find information about televised services here (include link).

While we are unable to gather together in person, we can be united in prayer. I encourage you to deepen your life of prayer in preparation for Easter. To assist you during these sacred days, we have numerous prayers and resources available here, at Spiritual Resources.

Easter is not just the celebration of the memory of an event long ago. It is the celebration of our present relationship with our Risen Lord, in whom we find our hope, and the motive for our acts of loving kindness, and the courage to face earthly tribulation with joyful boldness.

I will keep you in my prayers each day, and ask you to keep me in yours. May God bless you always.

In Christ,

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto


March 27, 2020: Cardinal Collins’ Letter on Holy Week During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Father,

In this time of tribulation, we as priests of Jesus Christ, are all the more called to deepen our exercise of this sacred ministry to the glory of God and the service of His people. Each day we do this through the celebration of the Eucharist even when it is not possible for the people to be present. We also do this through the celebration of the Liturgy of Hours in which we pray for God’s people as their priests, and I strongly encourage every priest to spend at least an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for the people.

We are approaching the most sacred time of the year. It is essential that, in every parish in the diocese, the ceremonies of Holy Week and Easter proceed even though adapted to the restrictions required at this time.

Due to the current pandemic, the liturgical celebration of the paschal mysteries of Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter will be celebrated without the physical participation of the faithful. The following instruction outlines how these liturgies are to be celebrated in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael, and in all parish churches throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto. Religious communities are to determine for themselves the most appropriate ways to proceed, but are to model their liturgies on what is set here for parishes:Palm Sunday – Sunday, April 5, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The liturgy of Palm Sunday will begin at 10:00 a.m., and will be livestreamed so that the faithful may prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • The liturgy will commence with the blessing of palms, the proclamation of the Gospel and the Solemn Entrance, but without the procession of palms. Blessed palms will be distributed at a later date.
  • Present at the liturgy will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • The liturgy will proceed in the usual way.

At parish churches:

  • At a suitable time, the pastor accompanied (as applicable) by his associate pastor(s), or resident priest(s), will begin the liturgy of Palm Sunday with the blessing of palms, the proclamation of the Gospel and Solemn Entrance, but without the procession of palms. The liturgy will then proceed in the usual way. Blessed palms will be distributed at a later date.

The Mass of Chrism – Tuesday, April 7, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The Mass of Chrism will begin at 10:00 a.m., and will be livestreamed so that the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the archdiocese will have an opportunity to prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • Present at the liturgy will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • The liturgy will include the blessing of Holy Oils, which will be distributed at a later date.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Thursday, April 9, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will be livestreamed so that the faithful may prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • Present at the liturgy will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • The washing of feet will be omitted.
  • At the end of the Holy Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be reposed in the tabernacle. There will not be a procession to a special place of reposition.

At parish churches:

  • At a suitable time in the evening, the pastor accompanied (as applicable) by his associate pastor(s), or resident priest(s) will begin the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
  • The washing of feet will be omitted.
  • At the end of the Holy Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be reposed in the tabernacle. There will not be a procession to a special place of reposition.
  • Priests who will be unable to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper are to pray the Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Day

Good Friday – April 10, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The Good Friday Passion of the Lord will begin at 3:00 p.m., and will be livestreamed so that the faithful may prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • Present at the service will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • Following the special decree of March 19 from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, special prayers will be said “for the sick, the dead, for those who feel lost or dismayed.”

At parish churches:

  • At the usual time of 3:00 p.m., the pastor accompanied (as applicable) by his associate pastor(s), or resident priest(s) will begin the liturgy for Good Friday.
  • Special prayers are to be said “for the sick, the dead, for those who feel lost or dismayed.” 

The Easter Vigil – Saturday, April 11, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The Easter Vigil will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will be livestreamed so that the faithful may prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • Present at the liturgy of the Vigil will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • At the Solemn Beginning of the Vigil, the lighting of the fire is omitted. The Paschal Candle is to be lit in the sanctuary. The procession with the Paschal Candle is omitted. The Exsultet then follows immediately, and the Vigil proceeds in the usual way.
  • The renewal of baptismal promises is to replace the baptismal liturgy.
  • The rite of baptism and the reception of baptized Christians is to be deferred to a later time.

At parish churches:

  • At a suitable time in the evening, the pastor accompanied (as applicable) by his associate pastor(s), or resident priest(s) will begin the liturgy of the Easter Vigil.
  • At the Solemn Beginning of the Vigil, the lighting of the fire is omitted. The Paschal Candle is to be lit in the sanctuary. The procession with the Paschal Candle is omitted. The Exsultet then follows immediately, and the Vigil proceeds in the usual way.
  • The renewal of baptismal promises is to replace the baptismal liturgy.
  • The rite of baptism and the reception of baptized Christians is to be deferred to a later time.

Easter Sunday – April 12, 2020:
At the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael:

  • The Mass for Easter Sunday will begin at 10:00 a.m., and will be livestreamed so that the faithful may prayerfully unite themselves in their homes to the celebration of the liturgy.
  • Present at the Mass will be the priests of the Cathedral parish.
  • Special prayers will be said for those affected by the current pandemic, for our religious and government leaders, and for the dead.

At parish churches:

  • At a suitable time, the pastor accompanied (as applicable) by his associate pastor(s), or resident priest(s), will celebrate the Mass of Easter Sunday.
  • Special prayers are to be said for those affected by the current pandemic, for our religious and government leaders, and for the dead. 

Preparation for the sacred time of Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter
Sacrament of Reconciliation: The only ordinary way of attaining forgiveness for sins is participating in individual and integral confession and absolution. Nevertheless, if a person is unable to make an appointment with a priest for the Sacrament during the current pandemic, it will suffice for the moment to pray the Act of Contrition as best as one can intending it truthfully, and to commit to participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible when conditions allow. There will be no permission granted for General Absolution. 
Resources – Devotions and scripture readings – to assist the faithful during these sacred days, we will make available, a variety of resources at: www.archtoronto.org/covid19 – these will include the following:

  • The Holy Rosary
  • The Stations of the Cross
  • The Act of Contrition
  • The scripture readings for the various liturgies
  • The Office of Readings for the various days in Holy Week, the Triduum and on Easter Sunday
  • (For parishes) Instruction from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops re: Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults in extraordinary circumstances

May God bless you always and sustain you in your sacred ministry of serving God’s people.

In Christ,
Thomas Cardinal Collins

Archbishop of Toronto


March 24, 2020: Churches & Offices Closed (Fr. Oliver Iwuchukwu)

My dear Parishioners,

In order to assist in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and in view of the increased restrictions on public activity, the Cardinal has directed that churches and chapels be closed, even for individual prayer, effective immediately. For the same reason, parish offices are also closed. Our church, chapel and office are therefore closed, and will remain closed until further notice.This is a deeply painful, but necessary, decision for our Archdiocesan faith community.

Please keep in mind that we are still here for you during this difficult time. You can always leave a voicemail at the parish office: 416-282-0370. Or you can email us at: stjosephch1@rogers.com or pastor@stjosephstoronto.org. We will return your call and reply your email as soon as possible.

It will be useful to visit, as often as you can, the Archdiocesan website, www.archtoronto.org/covid19 for updated information from the Archdiocese and for links to view the Daily Mass online. And please don’t forget to visit also our parish website: www.stjosephstoronto.org to keep in touch and stay informed about how our parish family is responding to pandemic.

Let us continue to pray especially for the sick and those caring for them.

You are in our prayers for God abundant blessings.

Yours in Christ

Fr. Oliver Iwuchukwu
Pastor


March 23, 2020: Catholic Response to COVID-19

Dear faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

I am sending you this message as part of our effort to keep the Catholic community informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this crisis some aspects of our communal life of faith must, temporarily, be restricted severely, because of our responsibility to follow strictly the health directives that are necessary to protect the community, and basically because of our concern to follow Our Lord’s commandment to love our neighbour. It is vital, however, that our Christian life grow ever stronger in this painful time when so many are suffering. I am encouraged by initiatives already put into action by our clergy and laity, for example:

  • Parishioners and clergy are deepening their love of God through increased private prayer, and family prayer, and prayerful meditation on the Bible and spiritual sources. The shock of this crisis reminds us of our mortality, and of our need for prayer.
     
  • Many pastors and lay leaders are sharing spiritual readings and reflections via email and parish website posts, and common social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People are meeting through the internet for apostolic purposes.
     
  • Parishioners are showing love of neighbour by organizing greater outreach efforts to assist others with the new challenges of daily life— groceries, prescription medications, and necessary medical appointments.
     
  • Several parishes are implementing friendly calling programs where parishioners are telephoning elderly people and those with special needs.
     
  • Pastors are also reaching out directly, by phone, to as many parishioners as they can to offer spiritual support. Many are sharing their contact information so that parishioners can contact their pastor by phone or email.

I urge everyone to continue to find creative ways, during this crisis, to deepen our life of faith.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, whose ultimate celebrant is Jesus, will continue to be celebrated privately every day by the priests of the Archdiocese for the intentions of the people, for which they are also called to dedicate their praying of the Divine Office throughout the day, and their daily Holy Hour of Eucharistic adoration. In view of the new public health directives, however, and because of our need to act responsibly and to show love of neighbour, on March 17 I took the extreme step of cancelling all public Masses for the duration of this extreme health emergency. I pray that the stringent measures that must now be taken to combat this pandemic will allow us to return, as soon as is possible, to our normal celebration of the sacraments, and our community life. 

Meanwhile, each morning, during this crisis, I will celebrate Mass at 7:30 a.m. in St Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, followed by the Angelus and the Rosary. This Mass is live-streamed so that the faithful can at least participate in that way. A link to this is found on the Archdiocesan website The Mass, where one can also find a link to the Daily Mass and Sunday Mass celebrated at Loretto Abbey.

 Your best source of information about our archdiocesan response to the pandemic is this website: www.archtoronto.org/covid19. There you will find information about participation in the Sacraments, sacramental programs and other aspects of ongoing parish life. You will also find information about how you can support your parish through electronic Donations like Pre-Authorized Giving (PAG), credit card and delivering (or mailing) your weekly envelope to the parish. In addition to keeping you informed through that website, the archdiocese will continue to share periodic communication, like this message, via email.

We pray for those who are sick, and for those who care for them, and also for those whose livelihood is endangered in this crisis.  Especially in this time of increased isolation and tribulation, it is all the more essential that our life in Christ be lived fully, even though our public activities are necessarily restricted for a time.

This great crisis has come suddenly upon us. It challenges us, as crisis always does, to put aside complacency and to grow deeper in our love of God and love of neighbour. May God bless us all, and give us the grace to do just that.

In Christ,

Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto


March 17, 2020: Letter from Thomas Cardinal Collins – Archbishop of Toronto

My dear faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

I wish to provide you with a further update on our response as a Christian community to the COVID-19 situation which is evolving rapidly. Today, the Premier of Ontario has declared a state of emergency.

Once again in the history of our archdiocese we are in the midst of an epidemic. I am deeply grateful for the priests, deacons and lay pastoral workers of the archdiocese who have acted in this emergency with such loving pastoral care.

We are called to ensure that this continues even more in the time ahead. For example, I encourage all pastors to organize the members of their parish to assist those who are isolated and vulnerable, especially the elderly, while always following the directions of the health authorities.

For the duration of this health emergency, I decree that the following be implemented in all parishes, missions and chaplaincies throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto:

Mass – In view of the requirements of the Government of Ontario, during this medical emergency, beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, I instruct that all public Masses be cancelled, both during the week and on the weekend. Churches will be available for individual private prayer. The priests of the archdiocese will celebrate Mass every day privately for the intentions of the people.

The faithful will be able to watch, via livestream, a Mass which will be celebrated every day at 7:30 a.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, which will be followed by the Angelus and the Rosary. I will personally celebrate this Mass as much as is possible.

This Mass, Rosary and Angelus will also be available on the Archdiocese of Toronto’s YouTube channel for those who cannot join at 7:30 a.m. These Masses and prayers will be offered for the intentions of everyone as we go through these trying times. In addition, Mass will be broadcast daily on Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation, VisionTV (Daily TV Mass) and EWTN.

So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are deprived of the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, for many reasons. Due to this health emergency we also will now experience their suffering. Perhaps this sacrifice will help us to cherish more profoundly the great gift of the Holy Eucharist. There is no substitute for personally participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the source and summit of our life in Christ, and we pray for the time when this may be universally available once more.

It is important to follow carefully the provisions of the health authorities, but it also essential that our spiritual life be enhanced and strengthened all the more during this crisis. At this time, when we are reminded of the brevity of life and of our own mortality, we are called to go deeper to our spiritual foundations.

I encourage all people who remain at home and who are cut off from regular social interaction to engage in prayer – to pray the Rosary, to read the Scriptures and to offer prayers for those who are suffering the most in this crisis.

We should also pray for the health care workers and others who are engaged in fighting this pandemic on the frontlines.

Baptism – At this time, communal celebrations of Baptism are not allowed. Individual Baptism is allowed with immediate family and following the regulations established by the health authorities.

RCIA – I dispense the catechumens from the scrutinies. Information will be sent out later on the Triduum and reception into the Church.

First Holy Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmation will be postponed for the duration of the emergency.

Sacrament of Reconciliation – Communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation are not allowed at this time. All those who wish to receive the sacrament should contact a priest. The sacrament is to be celebrated not in a confessional but rather in another location, where confidentiality may be ensured and where the distance required by the health officials can be maintained.

Marriage – Marriages without Mass may take place with the immediate family members, provided they follow the regulations established by the health authorities. The postponement of the wedding may be requested given these circumstances, but if this is granted there may be a need for revision of the canonical requirements.

Marriage Preparation is very important. At this time, however, marriage preparation classes are cancelled and pastors are to arrange for individual couples to be prepared properly for marriage.

Visits to the Sick and Homebound should continue as much as possible. As previously communicated, visiting clergy and volunteers should take direction from the health care facility. Parishes should also take care to contact the homebound and vulnerable.

Funerals – During this emergency, there will be no vigils or wake services. The Rite of Committal will take place with the immediate family at the cemetery. There will be no funeral

Mass at this time, but we encourage the celebration of a funeral Mass at a later date when it is possible.

Parish Meetings and Events are cancelled at this time.

Parish Offices – While parish offices may offer more limited operating hours, they should maintain an active presence in the community and be accessible to the faithful. Parishes are encouraged to follow the direction of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Human Resources department, providing flexibility for staff as appropriate. The Archdiocese of Toronto’s Catholic Pastoral Centre will also follow this practice, ensuring that offices remain accessible.

We will review our emergency provisions regularly in accord with the requirements of the public health officials and we will provide updates at: www.archtoronto.org/covid19.

While it is a painful moment in the life of the Church to take these extreme measures, we pray that they will aid in combating the pandemic that has affected so many in our own community and around the world.

Once again, we pray for those suffering and for those who are caring for the sick. We are facing many trials during our Lenten journey this year. We take these to prayer, and look for opportunities to be the face of Jesus to all those whom we encounter. May God continue to bless you.

In Christ,

Thomas Cardinal Collins

Archbishop of Toronto


March 13, 2020: Letter from Thomas Cardinal Collins – Archbishop of Toronto

To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

In light of the present situation unfolding before us regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide, our primary concern is the spiritual and physical health and welfare of the faithful and of all those who serve at our parishes, recognizing that we also have a duty to care for the community at large and the most vulnerable among us.

We have provided several updates over the past six weeks, guided by the best advice from local health officials. In all of this, we are guided both by our commitment to cooperate effectively with the civic officials responsible for the common good and also by our commitment to provide for the spiritual well-being of the faithful in our Catholic community. We need to care for others and to respond to these challenges with accurate and credible information.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Province of Ontario is asking that all public gatherings greater than 250 people be cancelled at this time. For this reason, as many of our weekend Eucharistic celebrations will exceed this number, I ask that our Catholic parishes cancel public Mass for the faithful this weekend; we will assess this decision for next weekend and any other that is required after consulting health officials. For this weekend and any other which may be required, I grant the faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation. Churches should remain open for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. Daily Mass will continue during the week.

The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our life in Christ. Not to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on the day of the Lord is an extraordinary spiritual suffering for the disciples of Jesus Christ. Indeed, in ancient times, the Christians had a saying, “Without the Sunday Eucharist, we cannot continue.” For this reason, while we are following the advice of the health authorities, as is our civic duty, we hope that this period of suspension will be brief.

We are asking parishes to adopt the following measures in addition to those that have already been communicated:

Mass Attendance

During this period of special vigilance, the following points apply for weekday Masses at the present time and for weekend Masses, when they are resumed:

  • In a spirit of charity, concern for others and to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, I ask that those who are sick, feeling unwell or vulnerable to sickness, refrain from attending Mass at present.
  • A daily televised Mass is available through Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation (www.saltandlighttv.org) as well as through VisionTV and also online (www.DailyTVMass.com). This provides an additional opportunity to pray for those who are suffering as well as for our health care professionals tending the sick.
  • At this time, weekday parish Mass schedules should remain unchanged to allow the faithful to receive the sacraments and to be strengthened in their commitment to care for others. We will continue to communicate with health officials in the days to come to receive the most reliable and accurate information which is the foundation for our actions.

Liturgical Practices

  • We ask that parishes empty all Holy Water fonts until further notice.
  • Extraordinary Ministers should not receive the Precious Blood prior to the distribution of communion. As previously directed, Extraordinary Ministers should ensure hands are washed or cleansed with hand sanitizer both before and after distribution.
  • Regarding Holy Communion, some health experts have indicated that it is preferable for communicants to receive the Eucharist in the hand rather than on the tongue. To respect the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at this time I would ask that all those who wish to receive in this way be directed to a designated priest, deacon, or Extraordinary Minister. Where there is only the priest present for distribution of Holy Communion, those who wish to receive communion on the tongue can be invited to come forward after those who have received on the hand.
  • In response to concerns raised by some parishes regarding the offertory, we discourage passing of the basket. Parishes should use baskets with handles, if they are available, or have ushers with baskets at the back of the church where parishioners can deposit their donations.
  • As I have previously requested, parishioners are asked to refrain from shaking hands during the Sign of Peace. Distribution of the Precious Blood is suspended at this time.

Parish Events & Pastoral Care

  • Archdiocesan and parish offices remain open at this time for the service of the people. Hospital and nursing home visits will be subject to the norms instituted by those respective institutions. People should not attend parish activities of any kind if they are sick, vulnerable, or unwell.
  • Parishes should encourage staff to practice healthy hygiene while taking steps to sanitize public spaces and “touch points” more frequently. Washing with soap and water for a sufficient amount of time is highly recommended.
  • During this time, when there is understandable anxiety among so many, the church has an important role to play through our outreach ministries. Particular care should be taken to ensure that the vulnerable are not alone. Parishes should explore opportunities to creatively connect with vulnerable parishioners – perhaps this is through phone calls and/or visits where appropriate.

While challenging days remain, we must also recognize the opportunity to be truly present to one another and to care for those who are struggling. These moments of uncertainty call each one of us to renew our commitment to prayer, fasting and almsgiving as part of our Lenten journey, amplified on a broader scale in light of current circumstances. May we continue to pray for all those infected with COVID-19, those caring for the sick and for one another.

May God bless you always.

In Christ,

Thomas Cardinal Collins

Archbishop of Toronto