From Fr Greg's Desk: COVID-19

Hi everyone, and welcome to the 'new normal' of life with the COVID-19...

I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are okay and coping well, despite the growing challenges and inconveniences of the evolving situation we are currently facing.

Please know that you are all in our prayers and we will do our utmost to respond to your needs as best as we can.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher has written to us several times over the past week, with helpful guidance on how to continue offering our pastoral care within the confines of the federal and state restrictions implemented as a result of the COVID-19. 

Even though several dioceses have suspended public Masses altogether, the Archbishop wishes for Mass to be publicly celebrated in Sydney for as long as this be possible for those in Sydney who would like to attend. 

Some parishioners may well have decided to stop attending Mass or feel it is better for the sake of frail or elderly parishioners to stay at home. That is completely understandable, given the current risks. Please note that in the current situation the Archbishop is granting to all Catholics in Sydney a dispensation from the usual obligation to participate in Sunday Mass. 

Change of Venue for Masses. In order to comply with current regulations, we have decided on a 'change of venue' for all our Masses. Since we are still permitted (at least at the time of sending this message) to conduct religious services as long as they not exceed the maximum 500 people outdoors and indoors, as they as they do not exceed the limit of 1 person per 4 square metres, we will celebrate all our regular weekend Masses at both SCB and OLQP Churches outside in the church grounds, starting this weekend, 21 - 22 March.

We also hope to give sufficient space to all participants in line with current recommendations, to maintain a safe 'social distancing' of 1.5 meters from others (with families and couples most likely staying close together). Please feel free to bring your own chairs or rugs to ensure enough seating will be available, as the numbers of people participating is difficult to predict.

We trust we will have your full support in implementing these changes, and that you will continue to support the parish financially even if you feel unable to attend weekend services. Donations can always be made online through bank transfer, credit card, or via the Tap 'n' Go devices at both Churches. 

 Please also be advised that should the number of participants exceed the maximum amount permitted at any given time, the Mass or liturgy in question would need to be stopped until the number of people be once again within the limit, so as to comply with recent regulations regarding public meetings, as there are severe penalties for non compliance.

If you are rostered on this weekend and are no longer attending Mass, please notify us via email ASAP out of Christian charity so that we can find replacements or make other arrangements. If you wish to be taken off the Roster temporarily, please also let us know.

The Archbishop also had this to say: 

(please note: the restriction for indoor gatherings has now been updated to *1 person/4 square metres)

“Several instructions have already come from health authorities and the Church. Outside gatherings of more than 500 people and *indoors gatherings of 100 have been forbidden; in due course the public celebration of Mass may have to be suspended. Individuals have already been asked, before attending liturgical celebrations, to consider their own health – both their potential to infect others and their susceptibility to infection. Parishioners or clergy who feel unwell or have flu-like symptoms should remain at home. Please be assured that the rest of us will be praying for you.

The Church in Australia was founded at a time when the Mass could not be celebrated on these shores and our forefathers and mothers waited for years to receive the Holy Eucharist. For us it will be at worst a matter of weeks or months. But just as prayer sustained them through those times, so can it for us today. Our enforced retreat from the world can be an opportunity to grow closer to God and more prayerful.

People were greatly edified by recent images of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage on foot through the empty streets of Rome to the image of Our Lady of Health. Let’s join him, then, in prayer and fasting… The power of prayer, married with the wisdom of health experts, will ease and hopefully eliminate this disease.

I ask that, as far as possible, churches remain open at this time to signal our continuing availability and as an incentive to private prayer. The Blessed Sacrament might at times be exposed in the monstrance for this purpose. Prayers of intercession for an end to the epidemic and for the safety of all should be included in Masses as well as private prayers.

Even if physical distancing is sometimes desirable, ‘social distancing’ is never so. We all need human company. So in addition to the sacramental care provided by parishes, healthy young volunteers and others should consider prudent ways to check in with the sick, frail elderly or otherwise isolated to inquire whether they have particular needs – for groceries, medicine, pastoral care or simple company. Individuals could cook meals and deliver them to the doorsteps of those in isolation. Modern technologies can also assist in overcoming some people’s sense of isolation.

To help people maintain their physical health and spiritual life through this crisis, we have a page on our website. For latest updates, prayers and spiritual resources, and to watch Mass online visit In this difficult time I entrust our Archdiocese and our nation to the intercession of Our Lady.”

I hope that this will help to give you all a bit of clarity as to the pastoral care which will be offered during this time. The Parish Office will continue to be attended, as long as permitted, and we will respond to phone calls and emails in due course. 

Entrusting everything into the tender loving arms of our Heavenly Father, and the maternal care of Our Lady, and asking for your prayers for all our sick parishioners in these troubled times, I remain, 
your brother in Christ's service, 

 Fr. Greg