Churches ready to start offering masses

May 26, 2020, 11:30 am
Kevin Weedmark

Students at a Vacation Bible School at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Moosomin in simpler times, before social distancing to battle Covid-19 made scenes like this impossible.

Churches will be able to offer worship services for greater numbers again when Saskatchewan reaches phase 3 of its reopening plan, with a current target date of June 8.

But starting May 31, Catholic churches are allowing small groups to receive Mass, an important part of the faith for many church members.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Moosomin is asking people to sign up in advance for masses. Information on how to sign up is in the church directory on page 21 in this week’s newspaper.

“Our archdioceses has told us that only 10 people are to be in the church at one time including the priest, so we’re limited to nine parishioners at max,” said Lisa Kourkafas, a cathechist with the church.

“Father’s going to do more masses. He will do Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we’re going to have four masses during the week in Moosomin, and he will still be doing them in Rocanville and Wapella. They are going to have to register for mass. We’re not going to post mass times because we don’t want people just dropping by. There will be strict guidelines to be followed that have been set out by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.”

She said special protocols will be in place over the host that is shared in the mass.

“What will happen is the blessing over the Eucharist, over the bread people receive, will be done before mass and the host will be set out on a table and there will be space so that no one will be touching anyone else’s host. Father will be using gloves as he does that. We will cover the host with an altar cloth during the mass so nothing gets on them and then as people come up, they’re asked to only touch the host that they’re going to take and eat and then go so that nobody cross contaminates the hosts.

“There will be other small changes. We won’t have holy water available for blessings when you enter the church because you shouldn’t be dipping your fingers in water that other people have touched.”

“As with other places around the province and country, the return to gatherings in churches will require new habits and new ways of being present in a church. All people can help provide confidence in moving our churches forward into future phases of reopening if we show kindness, patience, and charity towards each other,” Archbishop Don Bolen wrote to parishes across southern Saskatchewan.

Kourkafas said the mass is very important to church members.

“It’s the Eucharist that is important to Catholics,” she said. “This is the soul of what our church is.

“It’s a celebration of the last supper at every mass no matter what—we receive the body of blood and Christ every mass and that’s the most important part for a Catholic. I’m the head catechist at St. Mary’s and I do community confirmation classes and everything like that. One of the little girls who took communion for the first time told me that it gave her this warm feeling inside when she got communion and that is sort of the same thing that we try to instill in them, and that’s what it is, becoming one with Jesus, basically.”

Kourkafas said many church members will be eager to be able to attend mass again.

“It’s hard for Catholics not to have that every week,” she said. “It is part of your life. It is something not only you were raised on but something you believe in. It’s just always been there and hard not to have it.”

She said she’s hoping a lot of people take advantage of the opportunity to attend mass again.

“In crisis times, people will turn back to the things that they have grown up with, that have given them comfort, and I’m hoping that they will turn back to the church again for that comfort. We are always, always there for anybody.

“I miss my kids (catechism students) like you wouldn’t believe.

“I love teaching catechism—it is just a part of who I am. I grew up and went to Catholic school in Ontario, so I grew up learning it every day in school and it always makes me sad that the kids here in rural areas don’t have that every single day at school­—not having that catholic religion class.

“I love being able to give that back to them and I miss them and can’t wait to get back to it, and I know that will not be for awhile, but small steps are good steps.

“I don’t want to rush anything. Personally myself I don’t want to rush anything. I know we are not doing Bible camp this summer because there is just no way that can happen. The limits on gatherings are just not feasible for Bible camp. Hopefully we’ll be able to do catechism in September but we’ll have to wait and see.”