While most rural parishes in the Auckland diocese will likely resume Sunday Masses from Pentecost onwards, those with large numbers of parishioners may have to wait a few more weeks before doing so.
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, in a letter to all priests and deacons in the diocese, said the decision to recommence with Sunday Mass would be left to the priests and parish councils.
“As priests and their parish councils are best placed to discern their local situation (which will differ from parish to parish), we do recognise that each parish will have good reasons for deciding the optimal time to recommence Sunday Masses during the next few weeks before we move to Level 1 and the much greater freedom that will offer us all,” he said.
Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph dean Pa Peter Tipene said that they are not looking at resuming Sunday Masses soon. The cathedral has a Mass count averaging at 2600 on Sundays. They have four Masses on Sunday.
“The beautiful gift we call Eucharist is by its nature inclusive of everyone who wants to be a part of it! Limiting numbers that gather to 100 and excluding 101, 102, 103 . . . does not make a eucharistic community,” Pa Tipene observed.
“The Cathedral weekday Masses usually fall under the 100 cap so we will probably look at offering weekday lunchtime Masses only, and Sunday Masses will resume once we can open our doors without numerical restrictions of any kind! That day will come . . . till then we wait patiently and prayerfully!!,” he added.
He said the cathedral will be having 12.15 pm weekday Masses, beginning on Tuesday, June 2. Reconciliation will continue to be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm to 5.30 pm.
“We know that this will be a disappointment to all of you, but we feel it is unfair at this stage to place a limit on who can and who cannot attend Mass on a Sunday. If the cathedral is your usual place for Sunday worship, please assist the diocese by not attending Mass at smaller parishes that may be open on Sundays. Sunday Masses will continue online and Shine TV for the time being until we can all gather safely,” he added.
Bishop Dunn also said each parish’s decision will rest on how many can be safely accommodated in their buildings.
“No priest should celebrate more than three Masses on any one day,” he said.
Bishop Dunn asked priests to be available for the celebration of the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation and anointing of the sick.
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