VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver-area Catholic churches are set to reopen next weekend, but province-wide restrictions on the number of people allowed to congregate mean each parish will have to come up with a system for deciding who to let in each week.
Guidelines from the Archdiocese of Vancouver offer options for how to limit attendance to 50 parishioners.
“Aside from people with special needs, preferential treatment should be avoided. Among the possibilities for assigning parishioners are a rotation based on the first letter of last names; an online ticketing system; or the formation of fixed ‘community Mass groups,'” according to the Diocese’s website.
Only every second or third pew will be available – and the guidelines suggest rotating which pews are used for different masses.
No hymn books or other cards will be available in the pews. Confessionals will remain closed, although confession is still being heard ‘drive-thru’ style and in larger spaces.
Hand sanitizers will replace Holy Water fonts at church foyers. Gatherings after church are still forbidden and washrooms won’t be open.
Priests who have any respiratory condition will not be able to celebrate mass publicly and church members who are sick or who live with someone who has been sick are being asked to stay home.
The archdiocese says masses could be said more frequently to accommodate more of the faithful, but in the meantime, it is encouraging parishes to continue livestreaming “as long as the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in force.”
Churches cannot re-open before the weekend of May 23, and the ultimate decision over whether to re-open at this time is being left to individual pastors.