Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
We are living in challenging times of pandemic proportions brought about with the advent of COVID-19 known as Corona Virus. You would have heard by now that Dominica has recorded its second confirmed case. While it tells us of the reality of this unwanted guest among us, it also challenges us to be responsible in curbing its spread and eventually eliminating its presence.
In the last few weeks, I have issued guidelines regarding our liturgical celebrations and proper hygienic practices in the face of COVID-19. These we need to continue to observe with strictness. With the arrival of the virus among us, we need to intensify our discipline towards the disease. In that regard, I appeal to seniors, students and those with medical conditions to stay home. Please stay home and save lives!
I appeal also to all and sundry to practice respiratory etiquette, like coughing or sneezing into a flexed elbow or tissue and throwing the tissue into a closed bin; regular hand washing, social distancing of about ten feet and strictly avoiding touching the face.
Moreover, I solicit the cooperation of all Clergy and faithful in the Diocese to adhere strictly to the following updates to our previous guidelines:
- Effective immediately, all public church gatherings, including Lenten Retreats, Sunday and weekday Masses are suspended until further notice.
- As regards funerals, it is advised the no more than 10 persons attend and that the service be of a reasonably short duration.
- The celebration of the Mass of the Holy Chrism will take place at the Cathedral Chapel on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 with a group of the clergy.
- The celebrations of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses will take place at the Cathedral Chapel and Parish Churches with no more than 10 people.
- Arrangements are being made to provide a live stream of all the Sunday Masses and Holy Week celebrations from the Cathedral Chapel on Dominica Catholic Radio, television and social media in order to give the faithful the opportunity to unite themselves to these celebrations while remaining at home.
- Therefore, due to this grave circumstance the faithful are dispensed from their Sunday obligation and can make spiritual communion by following the Mass via television, radio of other social media.
While public church gatherings are suspended, the Churches will remain open for private prayer.
- The youth office will be closed until further notice.
I reiterate the following instructions which I gave in a previous guideline:
- I invite all members of the Clergy and Religious in the Diocese to do a personal daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for the Church and the Nation as we work towards preventing/combating the deadly COVID-19.
- I encourage families to stay united in prayer e.g. the recitation of the Holy Rosary, engaging in the spiritual reading of the Bible (Lectio Divina), the Divine Office, meditation, family novenas, etc.
- More than ever before, we must be mindful of the need to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Let us remember those in the region and around the world who have contracted the virus and those who have succumbed to its mortal effects. May their souls rest in peace
My dear friends, in Dominica, we are familiar with challenging times, in both the recent and distant past, all of which we have overcome. We find consolation in the words of St. Paul when he says: “Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or attacked. As scriptures promised: for your sake we are being massacred daily and reckoned as sheep for the slaughter. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loves us. For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39).
By faithfully following the appropriate guidelines and putting our trust in our God, we will overcome this present challenge. God bless you all!