21 Feb 2022

RE: Celebrating Ash Wednesday and the Holy Week in time of Pandemic


Dear sisters and brothers,

RE: Celebrating Ash Wednesday and the Holy Week in time of Pandemic

Grace and peace, I hope that this note finds you well. 

I wish to communicate the following information to you.


1.         Social Distancing

The current direction that applies to Places of Worship is 3 persons per 4 sqm. We will provide further information if this changes.


2.         Ash Wednesday Distribution of Ashes

2.1 Ashes ARE NOT to be directly applied to the forehead.

2.2 In place of ashes being applied:

a)  The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

b)  The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.

c)   The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.


3.         The Celebration of Triduum Ceremonies

3.1 a) There is to be only ONE Easter Vigil in each Parish.

b) If a Parish deems it beneficial, TWO opportunities for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Good Friday Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, are permitted.


3.2 Traditionally, gifts for the poor are brought up with the bread and wine at the Preparation of Gifts. The procession of bread and wine has been omitted during COVID restrictions, and this instruction should continue for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  

However, to make clear the connection between the Washing of the Feet and the call to serve, it would be appropriate for the Project Compassion boxes to be brought up at this time, since they will not be touched by anyone and can be retrieved immediately after Mass for safe-keeping.


3.3 Distribution of Holy Communion

Even though this is the one night when everyone is encouraged to receive Holy Communion under both forms, it can only be offered under the form of bread this year. Only the Priest (and any concelebrating Priests) will receive the Precious Blood. As well as this, a reminder of the Diocesan Policy which prohibits Holy Communion being received on the tongue.


3.4 Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose

There are two options here:

a) If the place of repose does not allow for people to be sufficiently spaced for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, then do not create a place of repose, but rather put the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle (obviously there will not be any flowers or other decorations since the altar is to be stripped and everything made ready for the Good Friday ceremony.) The faithful can adore the Blessed Sacrament from the body of the church and pray Night Prayer at a suitable time, if this is the custom in your Parish.

b)  If the place of repose does allow people to be sufficiently spaced, then the Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament should be carried out by the Priest and servers only (i.e. no procession of people following behind). Once the Blessed Sacrament is in place the faithful may come and pray. In this case, the place of repose can be suitable decorated, and Night Prayer be celebrated at a suitable time.


4. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Parishes are encouraged to use the Third Form of the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem. In this, the Simple Entrance, the people gather inside the church in the usual way and the Priest (and other liturgical ministers) come through the church to the altar while the Entrance Antiphon or hymn (e.g. “All glory, laud and honour”) is sung by a cantor or small group of singers.

The Priest venerates the altar and goes to the chair. After the Sign of the Cross and the Greeting he proceeds with Mass in the usual way.


5. Holy Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper

5.1 The Washing of Feet is always optional during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  This year, with the restrictions of COVID-19, there are three options:

a) It is included, but only the Priest carries out the washing by moving from one person to the next, pouring water over the foot, then handing the person their individual towel, they dry their own feet.

b) It is included, but rather than have twelve people, just the members from a single family come forward to have their feet washed.

c) It is omitted.

For options a) and b), the Priest will sanitise his hands before and after the foot ashing.

If the Washing of Feet is omitted, the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful) is prayed after the homily (since the Creed is not prayed at this Mass).


6. Good Friday

6.1 Morning Prayer and Stations of the Cross

If it is the custom in your Parish to celebrate either Morning Prayer or the Stations of the Cross (or both), it is essential that the COVID-19 restrictions are able to be observed throughout. 

If Stations are celebrated INSIDE the church, it is possible to have the people stay in their place and simply turn towards each Station.  In the case of OUTDOOR Stations, appropriate social distancing is to be observed while moving from Station to Station. For this reason it would be advisable to have several COVID Marshalls present to direct the flow of traffic. A reminder that the collection for the Holy Places ought to be taken up at these celebrations.


6.2 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

a)  Adoration of the Cross

1. The only person to adore the Cross by kissing it is the Celebrant.

2.  The faithful may adore the Cross by bowing or genuflecting. Each Parish will decide the best option for their particular situation:

-   the people may come forward (suitably spaced) and make their individual act  of  veneration.  Please use ushers to ensure a steady flow of people.

-   The people all remain in their places and the single Cross is placed so that  all  can see it. A generous period of time is then allowed for adoration. During this time a cantor/small group may sing an appropriate hymn (e.g. ‘The Reproaches’ or ‘O Sacred Head’) or a sacred silence may be observed.


b) Distribution of Holy Communion

This will be done in the usual way according to COVID-19 restrictions.


7. Easter Vigil

7.1 Normally the Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Candle take place outside. However, if this means that COVID restrictions cannot be observed, then it would be better to have this inside.

7.2 During the Baptismal and Confirmation Liturgy, please have hand sanitiser (in the form of disinfectant wipes) at the ready, to be used after the anointing of each candidate.

7.3 The Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the entire congregation takes place as usual.


8. General Guidelines and Reminders

8.1 General Hygiene and Social Distancing

a) Parishes must take reasonable steps to maintain 1.5 metres physical distancing.

b)  Good hygiene must be maintained, i.e. hand sanitisation and regular cleaning of surfaces.

c)   Discourage people from congregating at entry/exits and outside.

d)   QR Code and/or collection of contact details is still required at all Masses and gatherings.

e)    A COVID Safe Plan must be in place.


8.2 Congregational Singing

The Government advice on congregational singing is that singing is permitted. Members of choirs should be spaced more than 1.5 metres apart and should be masked. The only exception is a solo singer or cantor.


8.3 Ongoing Support, Catholic Health Safety and Welfare

If you would like further assistance please contact Deb Nation and her team at Catholic Health Safety and Welfare on 08 8215 6850.

Please be assured we will communicate any changes that may be made in the coming weeks.

In Domino
+ Patrick O’Regan
Archbishop of Adelaide

 20220221 001 L POR Holy Week 2022.pdf

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