17 September 2020
Dear Monsignor & Rev.
Father Brothers and Sisters in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg,
Grace and Peace to you
n Wednesday,16th September, we heard the announcement from the State President Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa that from Monday (21/09/20) the country moves to lockdown level one.
This means that places of worship will be able to reopen for prayers and services, with the requirement ‘that the number of people in any venue [church/hall) must not exceed 50% of its normal capacity’.
Emphasizing that “a maximum limit of 250 people applies to indoor gatherings and a maximum limit of 500 people outdoors”.
In my last letter of communication, dated 27th May 2020, you were presented with a choice to open your parish and allow for Holy Mass to be celebrated with effect from 7. June 2020, after the required precautions stipulated by the government are in place in your parish. I trust you have put in place the necessary precautionary measures and you are all ready to open the doors of the parishes on the weekend of the 27° September 2020 for the public celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a maximum of 250 people inclusive or 50% of the normal capacity of your church.
The church must be sanitized before and after the services. Ensure that HAND SANITIZERS are placed at all entrances of the church building, sacristy and sanctuary.
Those attending Holy Mass must be reminded that it is COMPULSORY TO WEAR A MASK throughout the duration of the Mass and be seated at designated places, adhering to the social distance guidelines. Music and singing would need to be controlled, and with agreement confined to either instrumental music or cantor, with a minimum of singing amid the concerns that it causes the virus to spread more easily.
Parishioners with COMORBIDITIES and the SICK must be strongly advised to stay at home.
CATECHISM, RCIA, and other faith formation programs at the parish, may resume in the New Year of 2021 with the exception of the First Holy Communion class and Confirmation class of 2020, that needs to receive the sacraments this year. can resume immediately.
BAPTISM and CONFESSIONS may resume, adhering to public health hygiene and protection of those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and allowing no more than thirty (30) people at a baptism ceremony.
All meetings of PPC, PFC or other leadership committees, sodalities and ministries are allowed to resume as per the ‘new normal’, and may not exceed fifty (50) people and all guidelines and regulations must be adhered to.
FUNERALS are permitted as per the directives of the government, with the restriction of a hundred (100) people allowed IN THE CHURCH, with the exception of COVID-19 related deaths, where the corpse does not enter the church building due to serious hygiene reasons. I take this moment to thank everyone within the Archdiocese of Johannesburg for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways. not least in the family home. I thank the priests who celebrated Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means.
I am grateful for the pastoral care shown by clergy to those for whom this time of lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have been bereaved. With the lifting of lockdown to level one, we tread carefully along the path that lies ahead Our lives have been changed by the experience of the coronavirus pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were done in the past.
We remain focused on the Lord and His command at the Last supper to ‘do this in memory of Me” We must now rebuild what it means to be Eucharistic communities, embracing all that we hold dear, while at the same time exploring creative ways to meet our changed circumstances. As we enter this moment.
It is important to remember that the coronavirus is still out there, it is still contagious, and it is still dangerous. So, we need to proceed with prudence and caution and concern to protect one another and especially our most vulnerable parishioners We now open the doors of our perishes on the weekend of 27m September 2020, In faith and hope.
Thank you for your kind cooperation. May Our Blessed Mother Mary, continue to pray for our safety and health, as I keep you in my prayer
Most Rev. Archbishop Bub Tlhagale OMI Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg
cc Auxiliary Bishop Duncan Tsoke Rev. Fr. Paul Beukes OMI — Vicar General