By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Bishop Mark Hagemoen will meet with the diocesan priests’ council and College of Consultors on May 12 to discuss a phased-in plan for parish re-openings as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
May 8, 2020 update from Bishop Mark Hagemoen: PDF
Find more COVID-19 information at: diocesan website
In a message to clergy, Parish Life Directors and parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon May 8, Bishop Hagemoen said the plan fulfills the “Re-Open Saskatchewan” criteria set out by the Saskatchewan government in consultation with provincial health officials. Precise timing of the gradual phase-in has yet to be determined.
“The plan features a gradual resumption of activities and emphasizes small gatherings and appropriate personal distancing,” the bishop said in his May 8 letter. “It also features a carefully laid out plan for clergy to distribute Holy Communion to the limited numbers that would be permitted for the celebration of Mass.”
Decline in parish income
The May 12 meeting will also address features of the federal government wage subsidy program, which was originally slated to end June 6, 2020. On May 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an extension of the wage subsidy program, with additional details forthcoming from the government in the weeks ahead.
“This is good news for our parishes, as several were beginning to tackle the difficult issue of temporary layoffs of parish employees, given the downturn in income,” said Bishop Hagemoen.
Online parish giving: dscf.ca/parish-offertory
The long-term ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis on parish collections and financial viability will continue to be discussed at the upcoming May 12 meeting, he added.
Faith leaders working together
On May 7, the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan joined with other religious leaders in the province in an “extraordinary meeting” about how faith organizations can best work with the provincial government on issues such as the COVID-19 response. “The lack of recognition of faith organizations in the government’s ‘Re-Open Saskatchewan’ plan has been the basis for this initiative,” the bishop said. “I look forward to seeing how this develops.”
The bishop also reminded leaders and parishes of the diocesan initiative to declare Fridays a day of fasting and of prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the end of the pandemic, for the healing of the sick, and for the protection of health care workers and other service providers. (Find more information and resources at: rcdos.ca/heart-of-jesus)