Chancery Office, Eparchy of New Westminster
18 March 2020
To the Reverend Clergy:
As you may already know, the Government of British Columbia has now declared a state of emergency under the Public Health Act.
New public health measures are now recommended to limit the time people spend in large crowds and crowded spaces. Effective immediately, all events over 50 people are to be cancelled.
In this light, I have issued the following liturgical norms, effective immediately, which include the suspension of all Divine Liturgies throughout the Eparchy of New Westminster.
We carry all our faithful in our prayers.
✙ ✙ ✙
To the Faithful:
We are living in extraordinary times. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic. It has affected every aspect of our daily lives.
The Government of British Columbia has now declared a state of emergency under the Public Health Act. New public health measures are now recommended to limit the time people spend in large crowds and crowded spaces. All events over 50 people are to be cancelled.
Our primary concern must always be to care for the spiritual, physical, mental, and wellbeing of our fellow parishioners and citizens, many of whom are seniors and those at greater risk.
Therefore, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following liturgical norms are to be followed:
- All Divine Liturgies are suspended until further notice.
- Faithful are encouraged to follow the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on weekends via livestream or recording on the Internet. On Sundays, Holy Eucharist Cathedral (New Westminster), and St Nicholas the Wonderworker parish (Victoria) will livestream liturgical services. Please note, these are closed to the public.
- All Lenten liturgical services and Lenten Missions are cancelled. The faithful are directed to the Eparchy of New Westminster website where they will find videos and materials to help grow spiritually in their Lenten journey.
- All penitential liturgical services are cancelled. Priests are available to hear individual confessions upon request or during posted hours. Confessions will take place in an open space (for example, before the Icon of Christ at the Iconostasis), and not in the confessional. Consult local parishes for hours.
- Funerals may continue to be celebrated in our churches and in funeral homes. In consultation with the relatives of the deceased, the number of attendees should be limited to 50 people.
- Some families may choose immediate interment, followed by a memorial funeral service at a later date. Public receptions following the funeral are not to take place.
- Children preparing for Solemn Communion and First Reconciliation are to receive instruction by parents in their own homes. Catechists can assist parents with the preparation of lessons and materials.
- Upon request, priests are available to visit the sick and shut-ins who request the Divine Eucharist, Confession or the Sacrament of the Sick. In every case, they are expected to practice appropriate risk mitigation.
- Churches are to remain open, where possible, for some time to allow for private prayer. Consult local parishes for hours.
- Further liturgical norms on Holy Week are forthcoming.
- Pray. Pray. Pray.
As things evolve, we will provide further liturgical norms as deemed necessary. Let us do what we do best as the people of God, let us pray:
Prayer During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages ‘curing every disease and illness.’ At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace. Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace. Be with our priests and spiritual care givers. May they know that they are loved and cared for.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
For You are a God of mercy, kindness, and love, and we glorify You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Bishop David Motiuk