Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Yesterday afternoon, amid increasing concerns over the spread of COVID-19, British Columbia’s Public Health Officer directed “all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people.” Respecting this new directive and until further notice, and out of prudent concern for the well-being of the entire community, attendance at Mass or any other Church events in the Archdiocese of Vancouver is to be restricted to a maximum of 250 people.
I realize that a number of parishes will have difficulty in keeping Mass attendance below 250 this weekend, and that managing this requirement will call for creativity and compassion on the part of pastors and parish staff.
If any of the faithful are unable to attend Sunday Mass due to these restrictions, they may be encouraged to find another Mass to participate in. However, given that someone has attempted to go to Mass and could not do so for reasons beyond their control, they have fulfilled the obligation. It is always good to encourage those who do not attend Mass to have a time of prayer, if possible with the readings of the Sunday and a spiritual communion.
The faithful are reminded to avoid physical contact with others at Mass, as much as possible, and should attempt to maintain a safe distance from one another. Those over the age of 65 are encouraged to stay home rather than attending Sunday Mass, as are those who feel even remotely unwell and those who believe they might be genuinely at risk.
Please remember to take into account the recommendations made in previous memos on this subject, all of which can be found online at rcav.org/coronavirus. These measures are only temporary, in order to get us through these challenging times, and your patience and goodwill are greatly appreciated.
During this highly unusual situation, let us join together in praying for all the members of our community, especially those who are most vulnerable, those who have already lost their lives to COVID-19 and their families.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+J. Michael Miller, CSB
Archbishop of Vancouver