Two churches in Auckland diocese resumed weekday Mass on Wednesday (September 8) after the Government had moved Northland and all of New Zealand, with the exception of the Auckland, region to alert level 2.
Fr Ramil Hamil, MSP, parish priest of the Mid-North Parishes, said that although the parish has seven churches, only two have resumed weekday Masses: St Charles Borromeo, Rawene and St Nicholas in the Field, Whirinaki
“This is so because some of the parishioners still don’t feel safe at the moment. However, next week, 18 and 19 of September, all the Masses in all churches belonging to the Mid-North Parishes will be back to normal,” he said.
The Mid-North parishes include St Patrick (Okaihau), St Anthony (Kaikohe), St Charles Borromeo (Rawene), St Nicholas in the Field (Whirinaki), St Paul, (Waiwhatawhata), St Therese of the Child Jesus (Moerewa), St Peter Chanel (Russell), and St Paul (Paihia).
Fr Hamil said they are operating under the guidelines set by Government for alert level 2, and had put in place rules “during the liturgy and for the parishioners”.
He said holy water was removed at the entrance and there is no shaking of hands during the sign of peace.
Communion is received by hand only and there is no distribution of the Precious Blood.
Parishioners must sanitise their hands before entering the church and register or scan for contact tracing. They must also stay within their bubble, keep social distancing and are encouraged to wear masks.
St Francis Xavier in Whangarei, on the other hand, opted to continue the suspension of public Masses for two weeks starting September 7.
In a letter to the parishioners, parish priest Fr Chris Martin, SM, said the decision was made by the priests as well as the Parish Pastoral Council on September 6.
“We considered the question: ‘Are we able to safely gather for Mass in our Parish?’ At this point, we are unable to do that across our parish,” he wrote. “There will be no Masses or Liturgy in our parish for the next two weeks.”
He said the parish council will meet again next Monday (September 13) to consider developments.
In the meantime, St Francis of Assisi (Thames) parish priest Fr Valerian D’Souza, OFMCap, said their church is open from 9 am to 10.30 am for adoration.
In a letter to the parishioners dated September 8, he said he has decided not to start public Masses until the area drops down to alert level 1.
“If you are living locally, please feel free to come for adoration . . . from 9am – 10.30am. Please wear a mask when you come. Please scan your visit or record it. Please maintain distance as per instructions,” he said.
The parish covers the Coromandel Peninsula and the Hauraki Plains.