Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Warm greetings to you, the faithful of the Diocese of London.

Today, I am very pleased to bring you the good news that the churches of our diocese are now able to open for the public celebration of Mass. I know how painful the closure of our churches over the past three months has been for all of us, both our people and our priests. The news that we can now return to them is truly an occasion of great joy.

Some of our churches have already opened. Some will be opening for Sunday Mass this coming weekend, June 20 and 21. The rest will be opening the last weekend of June or the first weekend of July.

In all cases, our churches are putting in place strict safety measures to protect our people. These measures have been developed by the bishops of Ontario with the input of public health officials. We all share in the responsibility to follow these measures, so that our churches will be safe places and remain open for worship.

Please contact your parish for the times of Masses and read the guidelines and safety measures that will be followed when you go to one of our churches.

Many of our people, who are elderly and have health issues, will not feel comfortable returning to church at this time. I want to assure them that the dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Mass will remain in effect. A number of our churches will continue to livestream their Masses.

Over these past few months, it has been inspiring to hear of countless acts of charity and generosity. I have been encouraged as well by your efforts to stay connected with your parishes through the livestreaming of Masses, phone calls and many creative ways that have enriched your spiritual lives. I thank you, our people, and our priests and pastoral teams.

Yesterday, I spoke with one of our pastors who had already opened his church for Mass. He was well prepared to welcome parishioners. Everything went smoothly. He told me that a woman came up to receive Holy Communion with tears in her eyes. It was like the experience we have of embracing the one we love after a long absence. Her tears were a moving testimony of what the Eucharist means to us Catholics.

Now that our churches are opening, I join you in thanking God for the blessings he pours out on us. I thank you for your faithfulness and patience during this difficult time and assure you that I am remembering you in my prayers. Our Blessed Mother Mary cares for us. Through her intercession, may God protect us from all harm and fill us with his merciful love.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that you and your families are safe and healthy during these challenging times.

Following Premier Ford’s announcement earlier today, I am happy to inform you that our Diocese is now beginning the process of reopening our churches. This is exciting news for us and all other faith communities in Ontario. The announcement, with the changes it makes to restrictions on gatherings, recognizes the importance of places of worship. We are grateful to Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton, the Minister designated to lead the coordination with faith communities during the pandemic.

With this news, I ask for your patience. We have been working hard to prepare for the reopening of our churches, but we will need some time to make sure our communities can worship safely.

As we move towards reopening as soon as possible, the following priorities guide our planning:

  • The health and safety of the faithful, clergy, staff and volunteers;
  • Proactive measures to avoid the potential of a second wave of this virus;
  • Recognizing the basic commandment – love of God and of neighbour – we have a responsibility to care for one another and protect our communities.

Be assured that a detailed plan to reopen is now being finalized. We have not yet set a date, but it will be communicated as soon as we are ready. Many things need to be put in place before we can reopen, including adjusting church seating plans, and training clergy, lay ministers, staff and volunteers in how to be safe and keep our communities safe. We pray that these extraordinary measures will be temporary, but for this to be the case we must follow the advice of health authorities to minimize any potential transmission of the virus when we resume services.

I realize that not being able to celebrate Mass and not having access to the sacraments has been very painful for all of us. It has been encouraging to me to receive many messages from people who have used this time to grow spiritually as they found other ways to pray, worship online and be closer to God. I thank you, our people, and our priests and pastoral teams, for the remarkable efforts you have made to support one another in the faith over the past several months.

Given the capacity restrictions of 30% that are in place when we reopen our churches, parishes will continue to livestream Masses wherever possible, recognizing all will not be able to gather at this time. Because some people may be sick, have a compromised immune system, or feel uncomfortable returning to church, the dispensation of the obligation for Sunday Mass remains in effect until further notice.

Approaching these uncertain days with a spirit of kindness and generosity to one another will help us all as we navigate the path ahead. I continue to be inspired by the countless acts of goodwill and charity taking place throughout our Diocese.

May we continue to pray for the sick, those who have died during this pandemic and for those caring for them. Be assured of my gratitude for your patience and faithfulness during this closure period. You remain in my prayers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.

Bishop of London

 

 At the weekly teleconference with the Episcopal Council, we discussed the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown. I direct the following be communicated to all people of the Diocese:

1.    Continuation of the Lockdown

We continue to follow strictly the direction of the Government of Ontario and local health authorities as to when the lockdown will be lifted. With other dioceses in Ontario, we are awaiting guidelines being prepared under the auspices of the Bishops of Ontario to safely reopen our churches. These guidelines will then be implemented at the diocesan level. We are mindful that preparations for the return to celebrations of the Mass and sacraments will take a great deal of organization and work, in order to maintain a healthy environment to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

In light of the above, our churches will remain closed at least until the end of June. If the government’s emergency orders are lifted sooner, we will adjust accordingly.

2.    Cancellation of Summer Gatherings

All social and other religious events normally held during the summer months will be cancelled, at least until Labour Day. This directive is contingent on governmental directions as noted above. It includes parish dinners and picnics; yard sales and bazaars; and national religious festivals and pilgrimages.

We continue to pray for an end to the pandemic, for all who suffer illness, for those who care for them and provide essential services, for those who have died and for those who have lost loved ones. May Our Blessed Mother continue to intercede for us, for God’s mercy and deliverance.

 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.

Bishop of London

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As many of us have heard, churches in other parts of the world are reopening for services as COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted. In the Diocese of London, we cannot reopen at this time as gatherings of more than five people are still not permitted under the provincial government’s emergency orders.

All of us are longing to return to our churches. I certainly am looking forward to that day when we will be able to gather and celebrate in our parish communities.

I want you to know that I am currently working with the other bishops of Ontario to coordinate plans for the safe return to our churches. Our foremost concern is the health of our parishioners and we know, if we work together with others in our communities to fight the spread of the coronavirus, we will once again be able to celebrate the sacraments safely.

Following these deliberations with the Ontario bishops, I intend to issue directives for the Diocese of London. These directives will provide all our parishes with clear instructions about how to reopen our churches as well as any changes required for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance.

If you are concerned about access to confession, please remember that Pope Francis granted the faithful a plenary indulgence during the pandemic and, though you are unable to confess to a priest, you can express your contrition directly to God and receive forgiveness.

I know that alternative celebrations are being offered in different places, such as parking lot Masses, Eucharistic adoration, drive-through confessions and Rosary rallies. The Diocese of London does not endorse these as necessary at this time or good liturgical practice. Instead, I encourage you to continue to take advantage of alternatives such as online Masses and prayers. There are many helpful links on the outreach page of the diocesan website https://dol.ca/outreach.

For now, our churches will remain closed until we can open them in cooperation with provincial and local officers of health.

I want to assure you of my prayers for your well-being. Through the intercession of Mary, may God bring an end to the pandemic; may you experience the merciful presence of Christ; may we soon be able to gather again in our churches to be nourished by the Eucharist.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London

On Thursday 14 May, believers around the world will join – whether through prayer, fasting or by performing acts of charity – to pray for an end to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking before the Regina Coeli on 3 May, Pope Francis said “since prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14 May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: 14 May, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and perform works of charity”.

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