COVID-19 Updates

For Advent and Christmas 2021

Please download the November 23, 2021 Letter (PDF, 4 pages)
which includes information about:

    • COVID-19 Guidelines for Advent and Christmas 2021
    • Season of Advent
    • Year of St. Joseph
    • The Encounter of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth with Pope Francis at the Vatican from December 17-20, 2021
    • Season of Christmas
    • Consultation and collaboration with staff and volunteers
    • Crowd control
    • Online registration

The following guidelines prepared with the current health and safety restrictions in place will assist you in planning for the upcoming Advent and Christmas season. The general liturgical guidelines issued on September 16, 2021 remain in effect: COVID-19 Liturgical Guidelines – Sept.16, 2021

Please note the Archdiocesan Guidelines on Social Gatherings related to facility usage outside of liturgical celebrations. A reminder that social gatherings of any kind are not permitted at this time.

A separate document will be released if and when any provincial restrictions change, or any changes to Archdiocesan protocols.

September 16, 2021 – Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency

Places of Worship

Mandatory restriction – Effective Sept. 16

  • Capacity limited to 1/3 fire code occupancy.
  • Masks are mandatory.
  • 2 metres physical distancing between households, or 2 close contacts for those living alone.

Wedding and Funerals

Mandatory restriction – Effective Sept. 20

  • Indoor wedding ceremonies and funeral services are permitted with up to 50 people or 50% of fire code occupancy, whichever is less.
  • Indoor wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited, unless the hosting facility implements the restrictions exemption program.
  • Outdoor ceremonies, services and receptions are permitted with up to 200 people and must follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (sales end at 10pm, consumption by 11 p.m.), unless the hosting facility implements the restrictions exemption program.

Social Gatherings

Mandatory restriction – Effective Sept 16

Indoor social gatherings

  • Vaccinated: Indoor private social gatherings are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 vaccine-eligible, vaccinated people and no restrictions on children under 12.
  • Unvaccinated: Indoor social gatherings are not permitted for vaccine-eligible people who are unvaccinated.

Outdoor social gatherings

  • Outdoor private social gatherings limited to a maximum of 200 people, with 2 metre physical distancing at all times.

Per: ​

These new PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY rules take precedence over all previous guidance below.

Liturgical Guidance during COVID

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

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 is a medically-certified exception.
  • Employees must mask in all indoor work settings, except in work stations.

Mass in Parish Churches

  • The use of masks is required in all indoor public facilities of the parishes and Archdiocesan facilities
  • Congregational singing is suspended.
  • 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.
  • Work from home unless it hinders the normal operations of the parish.


  • 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 included below.
  • 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).

VIDEO: How to receive Communion

VIDEO: Demonstration of how to receive Communion

Weddings (With Mass and Outside of Mass)

  • Wedding ceremonies may now have up to 20 people. Weddings continue to include the officiant, bride/groom, witnesses and any photographers/videographers. The Alberta government and AHS now include photographers and videographers in the 20 people attendance. We are following up on our last update. The Archdiocese does not consider the soloist and instrumentalist as part of the 20 people allowed.

Funerals (Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass)

  • Funerals continue to have a maximum of 20 people. This number does not include facility staff, funeral clergy or organizers not considered guests.


  • In-person attendance for Baptism is 20 people. This does not include the celebrant.
  • Proper physical distancing and the use of masks are required during the celebration of the rite.


  • The capacity limit for in-person attendance is 1/3 of the fire code occupancy.


  • Pastors may confer the Sacrament of the Confirmation, especially if the parish postponed the celebration due to the recent restrictions.

Visitation to the Sick

  • During Stage 2, a priest or deacon may take Holy Communion to the sick. If visitation is to a hospital or nursing home, we must adhere to the institution’s admission and risk mitigation policies.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

  • Adoration continues to be permitted with adherence to canonical guidelines and proper physical distancing and mask use.
  • The capacity limit for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the church is now 1/3 of the fire code occupancy.

Social Gatherings

  • Outdoor social gatherings, with proper distancing, allowed up to 20 people.
  • Indoor social gatherings are not permitted. This can limit visits to parishioner’s homes until Stage 3, which could begin in a few weeks.

As we enter into Stage 2, our parishes continue to prepare for Stage 3 of Alberta’s Open for Summer Plan.

We thank all of you, clergy or parishioner, for your faithful stewardship these past several months. The preparations we all make together these next weeks will be essential as we return to pre-pandemic activities. There may be new ministries that will flow from the many volunteers that have offered their gifts these past several months, so please talk to your pastor about any way you can contribute and be involved moving forward together in Christ.

How can we grow in holiness during the pandemic?

“In this video message, I’m responding to a question that was put to me not long after restrictions placed upon us due to COVID-19 began to take hold. Someone wondered how to grow in holiness during this time of pandemic. Let’s take a brief look at that.”

“Let me say first that I’m really pleased with the question. It suggests an intuition that these strange and limiting circumstances might be providing us with an occasion to ponder closely our life of faith and the universal call to holiness that is ours from Baptism. I think here we already have what we could call a holy intuition, one that recognizes that, since God is always at work in our lives, we should be very attentive, especially in untoward situations, to how we might be called to cooperate with his grace…”

— Archbishop Richard Smith, May 7, 2020



AB/NWT Bishops Pastoral Letter “On the Impact of COVID-19 & the Call to Christian Renewal”

Archbishop Smith’s Letters & Messages

Faith Resources

From Pope Francis

At Home

Spiritual Communion is an act of prayer that can be used when participating in the Mass remotely.

During the Pandemic, Living With Christ is offering free Prayer Resources and Daily Mass texts.

The Archbishop’s homily texts will be posted on our Messages and Homilies page.

Archdiocesan Updates for Parishes and Staff

General Updates

Human Resources

Mental Health Support

If you, or a loved one, is feeling mental health distress, please call 211 (Alberta only) or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

  • Protecting your Mental Health – Canadian Mental Health Association page with resources on maintaining your mental health
  • Sunlife Employee Assistance Program – Available for staff who are enrolled in the Archdiocese benefits programs
  • Help in Tough Times – Alberta Health Services resources page with support for you or someone you know. You can find information on items such as COVID-19, Social support, Stress, Mental Health, Grief support, and even in finding Healthcare Services.

On the Reintroduction of the Public Celebration of Holy Mass

VIDEO: Announcing a Gradual Return to Publicly Celebrated Mass