COVID-19 Update: Public Masses cancelled until further notice

March 16, 2020

To the Catholic Faithful of the Archdiocese of Edmonton,

The spread of COVID-19 in our province and around the world is a matter of deep concern for all of us. Our primary concern must always be to care for the spiritual, physical, and mental health and well-being of our fellow parishioners and citizens. To this end, we rely upon our expert medical professionals to furnish us with up-to-date and accurate information, and to guide and protect all of us with the directives they provide.

I have full confidence in the direction given to our province by the Chief Medical Officer. The liturgical directives I have given for worship in the Archdiocese have followed Dr. Hinshaw’s assessment of medical risk. Until late Sunday afternoon, an exemption from the ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people was granted to places of worship. In her office’s communique of March 15th, that exemption was rescinded. It is now clearly a public health imperative that liturgical gatherings in excess of 250 people not take place. A further prohibition is placed upon gatherings in excess of fifty people where it is anticipated that groups considered at high-risk, such as seniors, will be present.

Many of our Lord’s Day Eucharistic celebrations on weekends normally involve more than 250 people. To ask parishes to limit the number of parishioners coming for mass to that number would not be practical. In addition, weekday masses, Lenten missions and parish penitential celebrations will often draw more than fifty people, many of whom are seniors. Therefore, effective immediately and until further notice, I am putting in place throughout the Archdiocese of Edmonton the following measures:

Parishes that normally keep their churches open during the day will retain this practice. Especially in this uncertain and extraordinary time, we want to offer in this way the assurance that the Church remains close to you and ready to accompany you through this or any difficulty.

All other liturgical directives that I have communicated to the Archdiocese in earlier updates remain in place. They can be found in your parish church and on our Archdiocesan website,

Please join with me in prayer for a rapid end to the COVID-19 virus. May God grant healing to those who are ill, and eternal rest to those who have died. May the Lord’s blessing come upon our medical professionals and civic authorities, who continue to strive with enormous effort and great skill to keep all of us safe.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

✠ Richard W. Smith

Archbishop of Edmonton

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