CORNWALL, Ontario – Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese has decided to cancel Sunday mass in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diocese calls the move unprecedented.
“Amid increasing concerns over the spread of COVID-19, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer directed all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people,” reads a statement from the diocese. “Realizing that a number of parishes will have difficulty in keeping Mass attendance below 250 this weekend, the bishop has regrettably decided to ask our Catholic parishes to cancel all public LORD’S DAY Masses in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall this weekend of March 14-15.”
According to the diocese’s statement, they will assess during the week whether or not mass will be reinstated next weekend.
“As we know, the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our life in Christ,” reads a statement from Archbishop Prendergast. “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 Christian martyrs of Abitene (Tunisia) had a saying, “without the Sunday Eucharist, we cannot live.” 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.”
The weekday mass schedule remains unchanged, but the diocese is asking all parishes to empty all Holy Water fonts until further notice. Additionally, the Archbishop has asked clergy members to encourage parishoners to receive Holy Communion in their hands rather than on the tongue.