June 10, 2020
Dear Fellow Parishioners
Last week saw our country take its first steps into Level 3 of the Covid-19 regulations as announced by the government. They were unsteady and uneasy steps, as schools and businesses re-opened in a limited way. Everyone has been asking about how churches will re-open, and more specifically how our own Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town will respond to the Government’s announcement.
In our last communication, we conveyed that the Archbishop had clearly stated that we will not open churches until (1) the regulations have been promulgated by the government and (2) the Archdiocese has issue the protocols to be followed by all parishes.
The government has promulgated the regulations (in Government Gazette Vol 659 No 43365, dated 28 May 2020). Last week the Archbishop published a letter to all Parishioners (click here to read the letter) where he lays out the plan going forward for the re-opening of Churches in our Archdiocese. This plan was made after much prayer and consultation with medical professionals, national and provincial officials and the clergy of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocesan plan is cautious recognising that we are still in an extremely dangerous phase (possibly the most critical) of the pandemic, and that, in the Western Cape, we are at the epicentre. The risk of infection in public spaces is high and every infection adds to the pressure of our already over-burdened health care systems.
The Archbishop has made the decision that we will adopt a slow, cautious and phased process for re-opening churches in the Archdiocese. The regulations apply to the whole Archdiocese and all parishes will move together on this path. We are one diocese, one People of God faced with the same dangers, so in solidarity we will phase together. Thorough preparation is necessary. We cannot rush into this and simply open the doors. Part of our solidarity is assisting other parishes, less fortunate than ourselves, to also make their effective preparations so we can re-open together.
Our focus now is on preparation and in his letter the Archbishop lays out some of the considerations. We have also received the Archdiocese Covid-19 Protocols which give us the guidelines and regulations with which we must comply. Part of the preparation is that we need to help change peoples’ behaviour, and create new habits. We are all learning how to do that in our lives, at home, and in the workplace and schools. So too, when we come to church.
The preparation phase consists of two parts: (1) creating a safe environment for worship and (2) creating the procedures and processes which define how we behave in this new ‘normal’. An important part of the preparations and early phases are the modelling of behaviour so that new habits become second nature to us. We plan to use our live-stream videos to show the required practices before, during and after Mass. The reality is that attending Mass will not be as simple as in the past. Each person attending Mass will need to have their temperature taken, be screened, allocated a seat (with social distancing), learn the protocols for receiving communion and how to enter and exit the Church. We need to make sure we comply with the law, the protocols and keep everyone safe!
GRADUAL OPENING PHASES
The Archbishop lays out a clear phased path forward to the ultimate re-opening of Churches. The movement between phases is determined by our readiness and the effectiveness of our behavioural modelling. We need to make sure that in smaller groups at the Parish we are ready and able to deal with these new protocols; and that the Parishioners understand and accept what is required to attend Mass in this strange time. Each phase is designed to help us prepare, learn and perfect our processes in order to create and assure a completely safe worship environment for all.
- Phase 1 – Private prayer: 20 minutes for no more than 5 people over a limited period in a day.
- Phase 2 – Public worship with limited number of 6 people. This is specifically aimed at parishes that are already live-streaming. The purpose of this phase is to prepare parishes, recognise pitfalls, but also using social media to model behaviour with the 6 people attending Mass. This will be done by invitation and will also be among the lowest risk parishioners at Our Lady of the Visitation.
- Phase 3 – Public worship incrementally increasing to a maximum number of 50 people with strict adherence to all protocols and compliance with regulations. The system will be modelled with the 6 attendees so that when we reach the time for allowing 50 people, we will have a good grasp of the protocol. Mistakes cannot be made with 50 people!
Live-steaming will continue indefinitely especially for those who are most at risk.
When considering returning to Mass, be it for private prayer, as one of the 6 or of the 50, please be very cautious. We strongly advise anyone with very young children, those who are over 60, those with co-morbities and anyone who lives with such people do not to return to Mass yet.
The live-streaming will continue, and this situation too will pass, but right now the risk of infection is increased with the Western Cape at the epicentre, that we need to act rationally and carefully, always seeing the protection of life and sacrifice as our spiritual contributions. If you fall into the categories mentioned above, please do not be offended if you are not invited as part of the modelling 6 people live-streaming. Know that we would love to have you at Mass, but we refrain from asking you for your protection.
How quickly we move forward will be determined by several factors, namely: the rate of infection in the Western Cape; church-based infections; and the health and safety of all our priests. It will not be up to each Parish to make such decisions, but for the Archbishop to move the whole Archdiocese forward together in solidarity. Please also be aware that should there be any Covid-19 infections linked to Our Lady of the Visitation, we will have to immediately close and quarantine for 14 days with extensive cleaning.
IMPLEMENTATION IN OUR PARISH
We have had several meetings of the PPC and also in a Covid-19 task force team that has been set up to address this matter. The Covid-19 Task force Team consists of Fr Robert, Luke Holderness, Kim Ewing, and Karen Parkin. This team has made a great start on unpacking the Archbishop’s letter and protocols. Father Robert has already sourced sanitisers, disinfectants, thermometers, shields and most of the necessary equipment in order to comply with the protocols. Our parish office staff and officers are being trained on safety measures. As soon as we are ready we will let you know, remembering we start with prayer time and then the 6 people at Mass.
We have appointed two Covid-19 Officers from our PPC for our parish. They are Luke Holderness and Kim Ewing whose contact information is below:
Luke Holderness – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Ewing – email email@example.com
The team is working out the details now and we will keep you informed.
We will, however, need volunteers to help with cleaning the Church between Masses, and attending to people at mass by taking temperatures and screening parishioners as they arrive. If you can help please contact either Luke or Kim.
We recognise the burden of responsibility the Archbishop carries, and we welcome and fully support his decisions. For our part, in Constantia, we will implement these measures prayerfully and with the utmost care. We also realise that in many ways we are privileged. In that regard, we will look beyond our parish and reach out a helping loving hand to others around us, sharing our resources in our love in Christ.
CONFESSION AND ANOINTING
CONFESSION: Confession is permitted with immediate effect and will be by appointment only. If you wish to have confession with Fr Robert, please call the Parish Office to make an appointment. Safety precautions for Confession are:
- Confession will be held in the garden, weather permitting. Alternatively a room will be prepared and kept sanitized for the purpose of Confession.
- Social distancing will be observed. We observe the ideal distance of 2m between people.
- All people to wear masks at all times. Hands to be sanitized before and after confession.
VISITING THE SERIOUSLY SICK: Father is permitted to visit the seriously sick observing the strictest health precautions.
If you have questions, please Father Robert, Parish Office or the Covid-19 Officers. Your question may help others and help us refine the process, so please be active and feel part of this process. We are in this situation together and need to support each other.
WHAT CAN I DO?
We all have our role to play in this Covid-19 scenario. Firstly, we all need to keep praying! As the numbers of Covid-19 positive cases increase in the Western Cape, so have the numbers of infected parishioners increased. Keep them and their families in your daily prayers please, the uncertainty is often worse than the virus itself.
Then we need to keep supporting the Hunger is Real Fund. The support of parishioners in this programme has been staggering. We need to keep going, to keep recognising the needs of our brothers and sisters and to keep responding – thank you!
As we approach winter the Winter Warmers Project is also something to which we can all contribute. As we clear out our cupboards, please bring the cleaned clothing up to the Church. We will ensure they get to the neediest this winter (see future e-mailers for details).
And lastly the COMMUNIO Project. COMMUNIO is a network of communication within our parish where we have contacted every family on our parish records in person. The aim is to feel connected, at least by a call – but also, if there are any needs, there is someone from Our Lady of the Visitation to help. Please also feel free to contact your COMMUNIO leader with questions, as they too will be kept informed. If you have not been contacted, or are happy to take on calling 10 parishioners, please contact the office as soon as possible. Let us stay connected, and be a community through these very trying and isolating times.
Finally, we will be sending out a brief survey to all our parishioners this coming week to poll everyone on a few questions concerning this document and the slow return to mass.
The Archbishop’s decision shows wisdom and restraint and epitomises the love of Christ. It is also in the spirit of our Catholic Social Teachings, which uphold the dignity of all human beings, the sanctity of life and love for our neighbour. We are deeply concerned too that, as we implement these necessary measures in our Parish, we maintain the integrity of the Church and the sacredness of the Sacraments.
We undertake to keep you updated regularly. Right now, daily Mass continues live-streamed at 9:00am on YouTube, and each day at 6:00pm we have our Rosary Prayer Group on Zoom. And now confession is available. Our next step is to open the Church for a limited time. As soon as we are ready for this, we will send out an e-mailer.
Please keep our Parish and all our parishioners in your payers, know that you are in ours!
God Bless and stay safe,
Fr Robert and the PPC
As you know meetings are cancelled and we are effectively on lockdown. The office is officially closed and only available by appointment in exceptional circumstances.
WEEKDAY MASSES & SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
All masses and services are cancelled.
Father Robert is still required to say mass on his own each day. On Sundays Father’s Mass intention will be Pro Populo (for the people – for us). He will be saying mass at the below times and we are invited to join him in our homes at these times to offer a Spiritual Communion, remembering that a community that prays together, stays together.
Weekday Mass Times:
- Daily mass is being offered by Fr Robert each day at 9:00 am – please try to join with a Spiritual Communion at the same time so we pry together.
- Please join at 6:00 pm each day for daily prayers.
You can download the Spiritual Communion here.
Hints & Tips
Some hints and suggestions for making a meaningful Spiritual Communion are:
- Prepare the service: Download the document and read through it making sure you are prepared beforehand. You will need to have the daily readings from your missal, or you can access them here. If you want to sing hymns, prepare them ahead of time too. Know the order of the service – it is a familiar one to us, but it is worth being solemnly prepared.
- Give children tasks to do and let everyone participate.
- Prepare the room: Some suggested things you can do are to setup a table with a cloth, lighted candle, crucifix, the Bible, holy water, etc
- Create the right atmosphere: Create a sense of quiet and stillness, turn off technology, TV, cell phones and have everyone quietly sit in the room. Use silence – for it is in the quiet that we can hear Our Lord.
Father Robert is still saying daily mass – though in private, on his own. So, all mass intentions will continue as requested. The only exception is that Sunday mass intentions may need to be moved. Father is required to offer Sunday Masses Pro Populo (for the people) so any intentions requested for Sundays will need to be rescheduled for weekdays. If you are affected by this, you will be contacted.
If you wish to have mass said for any special intentions, please email the office on firstname.lastname@example.org to make your request. You can EFT or Snapscan your donation and simply use reference: MASS INTENTION <your name> <preferred day>. There will be a simplified bulletin each week available online, where the Mass Intentions for the week will be indicated.
Banking details are: Constantia Catholic Church / Standard Bank: Branch 025 309 / Current Account no 07 169 8965.
Every Sunday mass at 9:00 am
We are going to video Father Robert and Deacon Mike saying Sunday Mass every week in the church. Please bear with us as we master the technology and processes.
The recording of the Mass will be posted to our Constantia Catholic parish YouTube Channel by click here . You can just go to the YouTube and find it there. We will also send an email to remind you with a link. The Sunday homilies by Fr Robert and Deacon Mike will be in this video.
SUNDAY MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP STEPHEN BRISLIN
The Archbishop Stephen Brislin’s pre-recorded Mass can be viewed on Sunday 22 March 2020 at 09h00. He invites the faithful to join him online at www.adct.org.za
The Archdiocese assures everyone of their prayers in these difficult time.
LIVE STREAMING MASSES
We will send out links of where you can attend live streaming weekday masses. More to follow. Please send us your favourites too.
A popular location for watching live streamed mass is EWTN
You can also watch St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York here
Even though we cannot go to mass, we can bring God into our homes and families even more during this time, Jesus promised that where two or more are gathered in his name, thee he will be (Mt. 18:20). Developing the identity of the Domestic Church, the family, is something promoted by Lumen Gentium at Vatican II and efforts continue to this date to bring the church into families. If something good comes out of Covid-19, it may be that we come to recognise the importance of faith lived in our families. Make sacred time for yourself and your family to find a special place in your home at a special time when you pray alone or with the family. The church has many exquisite prayers that we can use. But prayer time doesn’t have to be formal – it is a conversation with God. Experience tells us that however informal we make it, we should ensure that we make the time and find a suitable place.
We will share prayers on our website and hope you will share your favourites with us too. If you like writing, then why not write one and share it with us? If your children write one, please share it.
EVENING PRAYERS AT 6:00 pm EVERY DAY
We ask as many people as possible to share in evening prayers and if we all do it at the same time, we will have a sense of togetherness and community.
We would like to offer these prayers during this time of the Coronavirus – for protection from this pandemic, that we may find a cure, and that we may heal from all its devastating effects.
You can say your own prayers but as a start we suggest the below:
- Angelus (normally said every day at 6:00 am, 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm).
- The Rosary
- Pope Francis Prayer to Mary during Coronavirus Pandemic
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc…
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
Hail Mary, etc…
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc…
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord,
Your Grace into our hearts;
that as we have known the incarnation of Christ,
your Son by the message of an angel,
so by His passion and cross
we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.
Through the same Christ, our Lord.
Pope Francis’s Prayer to Mary during Carona Virus Pandemic
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
By Appointment (call office on 021 794 5185)
If you want to have confession with Father Robert, please call the office and make an appointment. Father will hear your confession privately in the gardens of the church, somewhere quiet and secluded. Social distancing will be kept and being outdoors in the garden is a safe environment.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Please call the office to make an appointment. There are a number of precautions that need to be taken for this. Father Robert has consulted with medical experts on the correct procedures for the anointing of someone who is Covid-19 positive. If this is something you need, Father Robert and the Parish Office will advise you of the procedures. Please don’t use this facility lightly, conscious that it places others with a real risk of infection.
NOTE: Father still needs gloves and facial masks so if anyone has access to some and can help we would be most grateful.
These will be done by appointment. It is suggested that given the circumstances, the deceased be cremated and that the funeral be private or preferably deferred to a later date when the Coronavirus crisis is over so that all the friends, family and community can attend the funeral. Should you wish to continue with a funeral before the crisis is averted, it can be attended only by immediate family.
Ideally also deferred to a later date when social distancing is no longer a requirement. In an emergency, anyone can baptize a baby/person. Please call the office for instruction should you be unsure.
By appointment. For obvious reasons, anyone who is planning on getting married is advised to defer the wedding to a later date. In the current circumstances, weddings may only be attended by immediate family. If you have any questions, please contact Father Robert.
CONFIRMATIONS & FIRST HOLY COMMUNION
Confirmations are planned for Pentecost Sunday (31 May) and First Holy Communion is planned for end November. We will make announcements regarding these in due course as the situation develops.
VISITING THE GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
Please contact the office to make an appointment if you wish to visit the Garden of Remembrance.
Catechism for Senior, Junior and Intermediate classes have all started.
STAYING IN TOUCH
We are planning on calling everyone in the parish. It’s a gesture to stay in touch and make sure everyone is okay and hopefully alleviate some of the isolation.
CARE & SUPPORT GROUP / PRAYER GROUPS
If you know of someone who needs help or care, please let us know. We have our newly re-formed Care & Support Group – a wonderful group of people who are already praying together as a group for our parish and for protection in this crisis. If you have other prayer intentions please contact Jean on email@example.com or contact the office. We want to be sure that we are praying for everyone’s intentions. If you wish to join our prayer groups please contact Jean too. Join the army or people praying!!
Don’t wait to be asked – form your own small prayer groups. Share a prayer you will say and share a time when you will pray together. It’s a wonderful way of feeling connected – knowing that people all over are joined doing the same thing together.
Let us know and we can connect people. Please contact Jean or the office.
What will become of our bulletins? Never fear, our somewhat simplified bulletins will be available on our website from this week. With the social distancing, many of planned Lenten and Easter activities are cancelled and so we will have a simpler streamlined bulletin, indicating Mass Intentions, birthdays and anniversaries as well as the prayer list. The new Bulletins page under ABOUT is up and our first bulletin will be posted this week here
We are quickly updating our website and creating several new pages so that we have everything you need nicely organized and on a few pages. Please bear with us as we get this finalized.
Our parish has a Facebook page. Search for Constantia Catholic and you will find us. If you are a facebook user then this is a great place to connect with others from our parish. We will make sure it is updated and we will moderate the discussion as required.
COMMUNICATIONS IS TWO-WAY
Please share your stories and photos with us. We will publish them and share with the parish community. Please send us your thoughts, your prayers, good stories you find, interesting articles. Please let us know what you think and please be part of the communication.
We will setup more communications channels and encourage people to connect using some of the tools that are at our disposal. But also take time to find some stillness in your life and time to immerse yourself in the presence of Our Lord. Read books, listen to good music, rest, relax, make something, paint something, learn something, connect with friends, forgive old grievances, heal…. When this danger has passed we will have a more healed world ready for a new start to doing things differently, better…
And lastly ……. as everyone knows Coronavirus has not only been devastating to the lives of people but it has also caused huge economic disaster for many.
We therefore ask you please to continue your financial support to the church to allow us to keep it running even at this reduced level. Many poorer parishes rely on the Sunday collection for their income so with no mass their financial resources are depleted. We are most grateful to all our parishioners who through their generosity participate in Planned Giving. If you are a weekly giver and want to start participating in Planned Giving, please contact the Office on firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope the above answers most of your questions. There will be others certainly. Please do not hesitate to send your questions to the Office, or reply directly to this email. Please find us on Facebook, and we’ll stay in touch!
Pray for us as we continue to Pray for you,
Fr Robert and the PPC
MESSAGE FROM FATHER ROBERT
20 March, 2020
Please listen to the message from Fr Robert by clicking here.