For the first time in three months, Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral is hosting Saturday mass during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive is one of several parishes within the Archdiocese of Ottawa reopening for mass this weekend.
Saint Patrick’s Basilica, St. Theresa Roman Catholic Parish and St. Mary’s Parish will be hosting masses on Saturday and Sunday.
The Ontario Government is allowing places of worship to reopen across the province with safety measures in place. As part of the measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, churches must limit attendance to 30 per cent capacity.
At Notre Dame Cathedral, masses will be offered on a modified schedule, starting with the Saturday evening bilingual mass at 5 p.m.
On Sunday, mass will be at 10 a.m. in French and 12 p.m. in English. Weekday masses will be held in English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:15 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday in French.
Saint Patrick’s Basilica is also open for mass on Saturday and Sunday. The regular weekday schedule of masses and confessions will begin on Monday. St. Mary’s Parish is hosting masses on Saturday and on Sunday.
At St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church, parishioners were encouraged to register for mass on Saturday and Sunday.
Speaking on CTV Morning Live on Thursday, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said it’s up to each church when they reopen.
“Each of them have their own approach to (opening), we’re not just going to interfere with it. Just say, ‘if you’re going to open, you need to have these health and safety requirements fulfilled,'” said Archbishop Prendergast.
“Without that, you can’t open. Some of them may not open this weekend, some may open the weekend after or some might begin to open during the week for a daily mass. Each Parish is going to be left to its own devices, except that they must follow strictly the ordnances and guidelines we received from the health authorities.”
At Notre Dame Cathedral, Archbishop Prendergast says staff have blocked off seating to encourage physical distancing during mass.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa recommends parishioners and staff wear a face mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Each church will have hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit doors and there will be no offering procession or collection.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa is also asking parishioners not to sing during Mass.
“Unfortunately, singing provides a significant opportunity for the projection of particles from the mouth. Parishioners attending mass are asked not to sing at this time to minimize the potential spread of the virus.”
On March 14, the Archdiocese of Ottawa cancelled masses at all churches following a request from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to cancel any gatherings larger than 250 people to limit the spread of COVID-19.