PASTORAL LETTER ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

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PASTORAL LETTER ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Bishop’s Chancery                        
35 Canning Street North Melbourne Victoria 3051                   
Tel: (03) 9320 2560 Fax: (03) 9320 2544
e‑mail: [email protected]

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Cлава Ісусу Христу.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know, we have done our best to maintain the availability of Public Liturgy for as long as possible. Following the most recent advice from the Commonwealth and State governments we must now close our churches to the faithful until further notice. We should support the government and our leaders during this crisis.

As the Coronavirus crisis rapidly worsens, the regime of health regulations and other restrictions tightens. We all feel concerned. However, we must not give up. We must hold on to the hope expressed in the hymn of Great Compline at Theophany: “God is with us!” We must never abandon faith in the God who accompanies us in good times and bad. It is the Church in which we become a living sign of God’s presence.

During this time of crisis, we should think about our vocation as Christians. As the virus forces us to think about the ultimate realities of life, as baptized Christians, we have “put on Christ” into our lives. We are one with Him. It is always good to ask: “what would Jesus do”?

Knowing that we are in the presence of God, we should know that He will help us. We should not be anxious or disturbed. That only leads to behaviour, like ”panic buying”, blaming others because in our minds things are not clear or in order or just wrong.

Despite the fear we have, there are a lot of good things happening as well. Yes, things may change but together with God’s help we will overcome this crisis.

It is true that we are no longer able gather in our Churches for Divine Liturgy and the other liturgies throughout Great Lent and Easter. But we who are the Church in our homes as we gather in our prayer corners or before a treasured icon where we light a votive lamp and pray the Jesus Prayer.

I recommend that as we approach Easter 2020, prayerful reflection ought to be a priority. People often say, “It makes you think.” This is indeed a time to think about the significance of life. Reading of a good religious book or bible reading such as lectio divina could be a helpful way of strengthening our religious life. Private prayer at home by reciting a moleben or praying the Jesus Prayer before an icon or any other prayer is recommended. Watching the Divine Liturgy on YouTube might in the end be the only way to engage in an observance of Sunday.

The webcast of the 9.30 a.m. Sunday Divine Liturgy is to be considered the official eparchial Divine Liturgy in Australia and New Zealand.

The Eparchy will webcast from the North Melbourne Cathedral the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and the Parastas for the deceased members of our families on Friday evening, 7:00 p.m., 27th March and 3rd April 2020 at the same time. On Friday,10th April, we will celebrate this service at 3:00 p.m.

As to Sunday Divine Liturgy, we will webcast at 9:30 a.m. on 29th March, 5th April and 12th April. These Liturgies from our cathedral will be celebrated using Ukrainian and English.

Please pray with us in your homes. You will find the services on our YouTube channel. YouTube.catholicukes.org.au

All these webcast church services are being celebrated behind closed doors. They are not open to the public and are being organized according to current Government regulations.

Parishes are to continue to publish their Visti – Bulletin and distribute it by electronic means or by post to the elderly who may not have a computer.

It means the closing of our church doors is not just for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other Liturgical services, but for all activities that would involve the presence of a number of people for a period of time.

Regarding Funerals and Weddings: These may still take place, but only with very small groups and where the ‘1 person per 4 square metres’ rule applies. Funerals are now limited to 10 people according to the latest government regulations. All hygiene precautions must be adhered to.

Priests are obliged to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and Holy Days.

Priests areto continue the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Parastas for the deceased, during the time of the Great Fast, although behind closed doors.

All celebrations of the Rite of Christian Initiation that are scheduled in our churches are to be cancelled. Baptisms are only permitted in case of emergency, i.e. there is a danger of death. Otherwise no baptisms are to be scheduled until after the virus crisis has passed.

The regulations regarding visiting of the sick during this time of coronavirus are not clear to us. These policies are being developed. We will inform you as details become available.

Priests will make themselves available to hear confessions of the faithful when asked following all the rules of hygiene.

In regard to Holy Week and Easter, it would be safe to assume that no public Liturgies will be held according to present indications.  We will attempt to broadcast during Holy Week. Details will follow later.

We are continuing to monitor the health crisis at all times. These and other directions may change at any time I will do my best to keep us all informed regarding these matters.

It is important that you continue, as much as possible, your daily routine of prayer, work and rest.

May God bless and protect us through the Intercession of the Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary.

God Bless!

Yours in Christ

+Peter Stasiuk CSsR AM APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR