Three Letters from Bishop Richard Concerning Covid-19

March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Given the report of the first case of Covid-19 on PEI and the latest provincial health directives, I am directing all priests in the Diocese to cease the celebration of Sunday and weekday Eucharist until further notice.

The Catholic people of the Diocese of Charlottetown are dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass until the resumption of Sunday Masses is announced.

I am pleased to announce that Eastlink Community TV  has agreed to televise Sunday Masses (live) from Holy Redeemer Church at 9am beginning  March 22, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. In addition to the Celebrant there will be in attendance a Reader and two Acolytes only.  Holy Redeemer Church will open its doors after televising the Mass.  

Weddings, baptisms, funerals may proceed but parish priests are reminded to guide the faithful to compliance with provincial health directives regarding the size of the crowd and personal distance between individuals.

Individual confessions may continue as usual and churches may be left unlocked for individual devotions. However, Communal Celebrations of Penance are suspended.

Finally all parish catechism classes are to be suspended until further notice.

The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our life in Jesus Christ.  The extraordinary measures described above, while necessary, are nevertheless a source of spiritual heartache for all of us.  And so, as we enter this time of  Eucharistic  deprivation, let us plan our  own schedule of prayer, of visiting a Parish Church, of making the Stations of the Cross, of almsgiving and fasting.  Above all, let us pray for the thousands of people who are suffering from this viral infection and the many thousands more who will certainly endure economic hardship.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Bishop Richard Grecco

To read and/or download this letter in French click here:

Dear Fathers,

Since my last update on COVID-19, the Department of Health has issued new orders. There are to be no funerals or memorial services or social gatherings. I ask all priests and parishes to comply with this order.

Since this directive was directed to funeral homes and not to churches or this diocese, I think it’s safest to extrapolate from this order that it also applies to church weddings and baptisms.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Richard Grecco

Solemnity of St. Joseph – 2020

Dear Father,

            As I said in my letter of March 17, 2020 the cessation of the public celebration of the Eucharist and the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is a source of “spiritual heartache” for the Catholic Church in PEI. At this unprecedented moment we priests are given the opportunity to examine our efforts at accompanying the faithful on their Lenten journey.

 Accompaniment by Offering Mass Privately

Our ministry should seek to soothe the broken hearted with encouragement, kindness and the assurance of prayer as we endure this dreaded affliction. This includes the explicit intention in your private masses, especially the “missa pro popolo”  “mass for the people” in your parish.  In the midst of the current health crisis the Eucharist continues to sustain the Church.  It is our responsibility as  “ambassadors for Christ”(2Cor. 5:20) and in persona Christi, as mediators between God and humankind (1Tm.2; 5-7) to offer Mass privately with the intention of strengthening the faith of our people, and alleviating the suffering of victims around the world.

Accompaniment to Enable Prayer and Devotion

We can communicate to our people the importance of our Lenten spiritual exercises of prayer, almsgiving and fasting through postings on our parish web and Church bulletin board and Church foyer.  We should leave our Church doors open to encourage people to visit the Blessed Sacrament and spend some time in silent adoration. We may make available at the doors of the church copies of the Stations of the Cross. Given the dimensions of this crisis the Stations seem most relevant. (It is important that such devotions be done privately and not organized by groups as this is contrary to Health Department Guidelines.) Also do encourage people to watch Sunday Mass at 9am from Holy Redeemer on Eastlink Community TV or Fr. Frank Jay’s Sunday Mass which he live streams on Facebook. Finally, encourage people to reserve some silent time for contemplation, to pray the rosary and to read the Sacred Scriptures.

Our hope is in the Lord. By being active, spiritually strong and prayerful we do accompany and enable the faithful to persevere during this health crisis.

I conclude by sharing with you St. Paul’s message to his Pastoral Associate, Timothy:

“As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.” 2Tm. 4:5

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Bishop Richard Grecco