Liturgical Guidance during COVID

10 September 2021

Appears in: AnnouncementArchdiocesan News

Office of Divine Worship

9 September 2021

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues for dioceses in the Province of Alberta.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health CMOH Order 40-2021 states the following which pertains particularly to places of worship.

  • Par. 3.1 – Except as set out in this Order, a person must wear a face mask at all times while attending an indoor public place.
  • Par. 4.2 – For greater certainty, masks must be worn at a wedding or funeral that is held in an indoor public place.
  • Par. 4.11 – Despite Part 3 of this Order, a person is not required to wear a face mask while participating at a worship service at a place a worship.

This update is being released to provide clarification. The new additions and revisions are in red.

Masking Measures

  • Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
  • Mask use is not required if:
    • The individual is under 2 years of age
    • The individual qualifies for a medical exception.
  • Employees must mask in all indoor work settings, except in work stations.
  • Schools are not required to implement masking, but school boards will continue to set COVID-19 management policies, as they deem appropriate.

Mass in Parish Churches

  • The use of masks is required in all indoor public facilities of the parishes and Archdiocesan facilities except:
    • When attending weekday and Sunday Masses and liturgical and devotional services/prayers.
      • This exception does not include weddings and funerals as stated in Par. 4.2 of the CMOH Order 40-2021.
      • Masks must be worn when outside the nave, such as in the narthex, hallways, and in other indoor public spaces in the parish facilities.
      • Exceptions cited by the government will be followed.
      • While recognizing that a person is not required to wear a face mask while participating in a worship service at a place of worship, we strongly recommend that people continue to wear masks.
  • Congregational singing is suspended at this time.
    • Only one (1) cantor/soloist is allowed.
    • The cantor/soloist must wear the mask while singing/chanting and must be located away from the congregation and the instrumentalists/musicians.
      • The use of the mask is required when singing/chanting since this activity tends to project more spray/mist of respiratory droplets or aerosol.
    • Singing by the cantor/soloist will be limited to the following:
      • Entrance antiphon or unfamiliar hymn
      • Preparation of the altar
      • Communion
      • Recessional
    • Instrumental music may replace singing.
  • The offertory procession will not resume at this time to avoid unnecessary contact with the vessels. Its resumption will be decided by the end of October 2021.

Distribution of Holy Communion (REVISED)

  • Communion is only given under one species – the consecrated host.
  • Communion on the tongue continues to be offered.
  • If the Ordinary/Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion comes in contact with the Communicant in the distribution, please sanitize hands with a quick-drying, alcohol-based hand sanitizer before continuing to distribute Holy Communion.
  • The Precious Blood will only be available to the celebrant and concelebrants.
    • Concelebrants should receive by self-intinction from a separate chalice if there are more than one.
    • For a single concelebrant, he may partake of the precious blood by drinking from the separate chalice and purifying it himself.

Parish Offices

  • Masks are mandatory in all indoor workplaces, except when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or an appropriate barrier is in place.
  • This applies to all employees, visitors, delivery personnel and contractors.
  • Working from home should be considered, where possible, when it does not hinder the normal operations of the parish.

Social Gatherings

  • Albertans are encouraged to limit in-person contacts.
  • Unvaccinated Albertans are strongly recommended to limit indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only 2 cohort families up to a maximum of 10 people.

The Use of the Parish Hall

  • In-person meetings and faith-based meetings, which are not social gatherings, are allowed to continue without restriction on the number of attendees, i.e. council meetings, RCIA, support groups, etc.
  • Masks must be worn at all times.


  • Parishes that have livestreaming capabilities are encouraged to continue with livestreaming Masses for those who are not comfortable with returning to Mass in person.
  • Please replace the mandatory masks posters/signage provided by the government in parish facilities with this new poster. Posters included.
  • Continue to promote proper hand hygiene by having hand washing/sanitizing posters visible and placing hand sanitizer stations in convenient and accessible locations.
  • Make every effort to encourage respiratory etiquette (e.g., coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow, promptly disposing of used tissues in a lined garbage bin).