Safety key as Covid alert levels change in NZ

Safe and hygienic practices at Mass will continue as the rest of the country moves into alert level 1 while Auckland remains at alert level 2.

In a pastoral letter dated September 23, Wellington Cardinal John Dew called on diocesan church and school leaders to remind people of the need to stay safe and not take any risks.

This means Communion under one kind, no physical contact at the Sign of Peace and Communion on the hand only.

“Some parishes have established the custom of Communion on the tongue, if those receiving on tongue come up last in the queue for Holy Communion – this may continue,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Dew also urged the parishes to consider celebrating the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist in one ceremony.

Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe told priests restrictions around the reception of the Eucharist will remain until he has a chance to discuss the matter with the Council of Priests.

“For the Diocese of Hamilton, I would like the restrictions to continue until next week, where I will discuss the matter with the Council of Priests,” Bishop Lowe said in an email sent on September 23.

“I will then advise you what measures we will take bearing in mind the threat of Covid and further lockdowns always lurking in the background.”

He also invited priests to send him their thoughts on the matter through email.

In Dunedin, Bishop Michael Dooley said he has encouraged parishes to continue with good hygiene practices.

“I am not writing a pastoral letter, but encouraging the parishes to continue practicing good hygiene practices on level 1. For most parishes, this includes Communion under one kind, on the hand and no hand shaking at the Sign of Peace,” he told NZ Catholic.

Meantime in Auckland, Mass gatherings are still limited to 100 people. Parishes had implemented measures they had in place in the last alert level 2.

The Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph in the city will not be celebrating Saturday or Sunday Masses until the restrictions on the number of people gathered are lifted.

“We know that this will be a disappointment to all of you but it is unfair at this stage to place a limit on who can and who cannot attend Mass on a Sunday,” said cathedral dean Pa Peter Tipene.

Weekly Masses, however, had resumed.

Parishes such as St Mark’s in Pakuranga and St Mary’s in Northcote had online registrations enabling them to limit attendees to 100.

St Joseph and St Joachim Catholic Parish in Otahuhu, on the other hand, will not hold Sunday Masses. The parish council decided that Masses will be held three days a week.

A Facebook message from parish priest Fr Martin Wu and the parish council said the church building will be closed at all other times to ensure there is sufficient time for full hospital grade cleaning. “Hand sanitizer and full contact tracing is mandatory. Masks are recommended and please stay home if you are unwell. We will also operate an automated temperature check station to ensure we operate at the highest level of care,” they said.




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Rowena Orejana

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