My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Circular regarding measures to combat COVID-19 Pandemic
Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa
Last night (23rd March 2020) our President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26th March 2020 for 21 days. I, therefore request that with immediate effect all Churches are closed. All public masses, prayer groups, SCC’c, Stations of the Cross etc….. are to be cancelled.
Sunday and weekday Masses must be celebrated privately by the priest until further notice. The laity and the deacons are hereby dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays until further notice. Priests are encouraged to share Sunday homilies, reflections etc… with their parishioners via email, social media, WhatsApp etc….. I am aware that certain Parishes have the facility to live stream, please send the details to the Diocesan Secretary so that we may share with the Diocese.
Prayer at Home:
Even though a dispensation has been given from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, there is still an obligation to keep the Sabbath. During this time the faithful are called to live out the reality of the domestic Church viz. the body of Christ in the home. We recommend a fixed time for the family to meet for prayer services on Sundays or Saturday evenings. The Family Prayer Service starts with the Sign of the Cross, there is a silent awareness of the presence of Christ in the heart of the family that prays together, examination of conscience follows and the recitation of the Confiteor is done. The readings of the day are proclaimed, followed by sharing the Word of God and the recitation of the Creed. Intercessory prayers are offered for the Church, the world, the country, the parish and the family and especially for the victims of the Coronavirus. (The Family Prayer Service at home is attached. For those whose first language is Xhosa, the Hymnal Bongan’Inkosi offers a variety of Family Prayer Services. Please use them).
Catechism / Meetings:
All catechism classes and meetings have been cancelled.
Sacramentals / Devotions:
Stations of the Cross, the Rosary and other Devotional Practices are to be done privately. With Holy Mass being restricted only to the priests, members of the faithful are encouraged to increase their devotional practices at home and to ensure that the time one would normally spend at a liturgy is used in a fruitful and prayerful way.
Penitential services and private confessions are to be cancelled immediately. Our Holy Father announced during his morning Mass on Friday 20th March that “People who cannot get to confession because of the coronavirus lockdown or another serious reason can go to God directly, be specific about their sins, request pardon and experience God’s loving forgiveness. This is the right time, the opportune moment. An act of contrition done well, and our souls will become white like the snow,”
Anointing of the Sick:
The President’s Lockdown states that all people are to stay in their homes except to go to a doctor’s appointment or to buy groceries. Old Age Homes and Hospitals have “locked down”, you therefore would not be able to gain access to parishioners requesting anointing. Please offer up a Mass for parishioners needing anointing. In extreme cases General Absolution is to be given.
Communion to the Sick:
There will be no communion to the sick for the time being. All the aged, the infirm and the sick must be commended to our daily prayers.
Weddings and Funerals:
All Weddings to be postponed until after the lockdown period.
All Funerals will only be held after the lockdown period.
The Chrism Mass will be presided by the Bishop with two or three Priests concelebrating and representing all the Clergy. It will take place on Tuesday 7th April 2020 at St. Luke’s Chapel. All priests, where possible are asked to celebrate their private Mass at the same time, renew their personal commitment to God and unite their prayers, intentions, minds and hearts with their Bishop on that day. Holy Oils will be available for collection and distributed after the lockdown period.
Please see DECREE Prot.N. 153/20 from the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 19th March 2020, attached. The reception of people from other denominations and administration of the sacraments of initiation in the form of RCIA normally done during the Easter Vigil will be transferred to a suitable Sunday of Easter.
The Chancery offices will close on Thursday 26th March at 1pm to give staff members time to make provisions in their homes for the 21 days lockdown. During this time the secretary will be available online at home, please email: email@example.com ,to contact the Bishop please use the same email address.
I appeal to the laity of the Diocese to continue with their usual generous donations in the form of the weekly collections, pledges, planned giving and the Bishops Lenten Appeal during this time. The Diocese needs to continue to provide for the basic needs of retired Priests and assist those parishes which are not self-sufficient.
May God bless you all during this time.
Yours Sincerely in Christ
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Pope Francis’s Prayer to Mary during Coronavirus Pandemic
O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain,
keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of Your People,
know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that,
as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows to lead us,
through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God.
Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial,
but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.