As the COVID pandemic continues into the Advent season, Church leaders all over the globe continue to modify their ministries to adhere to local government regulations and protect the health and safety of the parishioners. Over the past nine months, pastoral teams at the Basilian parishes have experimented with technology and explored new ways to continue to bring their communities together. They share how they are preparing for a very different Christmas season.
St. Basil’s Parish, Toronto, Ontario
St. Basil’s Parish has been offering an online prayer service titled ‘The Gathering’. “Holding a prayer service, rather than a Mass, opened us to the opportunity to hear from non-clerical people. We invite different people from the community to preach including a campus minister from a local high school, graduate students in theology, and both men and women. There are a lot of voices in our parish community that we don’t always get to hear what they have to offer and it’s great to hear them in this context,” said Father Morgan Rice, CSB, pastor at St. Basil’s parish.
To join ‘The Gathering’ at St. Basil’s Church,
click here. The Gathering takes place over Zoom and the room opens at 9:20 a.m. EST on Sundays. St. Anne’s Parish, Houston, Texas
St. Anne’s Parish continues to scale back its Advent and Christmas celebrations in accordance with instructions from the Cardinal to limit the capacity during Mass to 50 per cent. “One of our major celebrations that we had to limit this year is for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. In the past, we have had the Mañanitas in the early morning with a procession of our Matachines dancers and a Mariachi band. This year, we will still celebrate Mass, but with no procession or gatherings afterward,” said Father David Zapalac, CSB, pastor at St. Anne’s Parish.
St. Anne’s livestreams its Sunday 10 a.m. CST Mass in English and its 12:45 p.m. CST Mass in Spanish on both its
Facebook page and its YouTube channel. St. Alphonsus and St. Clare Parishes, Edmonton, Alberta
The COVID pandemic has forced people to keep their physical distance from loved ones, which can cause feelings of isolation and depression. The Christmas season can be particularity hard for people and Father Glenn McDonald, CSB, pastor of St. Alphonsus and St. Clare parishes has noticed an increase in pastoral appointments. “People who are normally very well put together are coming apart. The ongoing stress and fear of COVID is wearing people down, even those who are normally quite resilient,” he said.
Alberta has been hit with a high unemployment and has asked parishioners to remember the poor this Christmas season. “Saint Clare, our patroness, was a poor Clare Nun, who would want us to put the poor first. We need to create an opportunity for God to care for us. Saint Clare chose a life of poverty to create an openness for God’s care and providence, so we must do the same if we want her to fully accompany our parish,” he said.
To watch the online Mass celebrated at St. Alphonsus Parish,
click here. Assumption Church, Windsor, Ontario
Due to a rising number of cases in Ontario, Father Maurice Restivo, CSB, pastor of the Windsor Heritage Catholic Family of Parishes, is prepared in case the province goes into a another full lockdown at Christmas. “In the meantime, we’re trying to keep everything as normal as possible without denying the reality of COVID and the effect it has had on our lives. We continue to light the Advent candles although Masses have a limited capacity. In one of my Advent homilies, I spoke about how almost all of the prophecies were written in difficult times and messages of hope. I think a message of hope is especially relevant in today’s world,” he said.
To watch Mass live at Assumption Church,
click here. Mass is broadcast on Sundays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST from inside Assumption Church. Parroquia San Lorenzo, Tehuacán Puebla
The Basilian community in Mexico broadcasts Mass daily at 7 a.m. CST through its
Facebook page. Parroquia San Basilio, Medellín, Antioquia
Óscar Fernando Gómez Soto, CSB, pastor of Parroquia San Basilio, has noticed amidst the COVID pandemic, parishioners are refocusing on what is really important. Jesus Christ is at the centre of all of the pastoral activities. A popular tradition in the parish is the Christmas novena. In previous years, 1500 boys and girls gather in the church, atrium, and neighbouring school. This year, Father Javier Higuera, CSB will be offering a novena virtually so families can come together in prayer at home and avoid crowds.
Christmas novena in Spanish
(View in .pdf)