May the peace of Christ be with you. This is an updated version of the pastoral letter I sent out on the 23rd of this month.
We are in the most holy week of the Christian calendar when we celebrate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We thank God that in Victoria we can celebrate these holy mysteries in person unlike last year when we were in total lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Though the situation has greatly improved in Australia at large and in Victoria in particular, we are not completely out of the woods. Hence, the need to be cautious as we celebrate our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.
The palm and olive branches shall be blessed on Palm Sunday, (in the Church), but only the Priests and altar servers shall process with the palms, the rest shall participate from their pews.
The Blessing of the Holy Oils, (Chrism Mass), shall take place on Tuesday, 30th March at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Due to the density requirement on every Church, only the Priests, Deacon, and two parishioners would be able to participate in the Chrism Mass this year from our Parishes.
On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Last Supper shall be celebrated and the Vigil with the Lord shall be kept until midnight, however, the Washing of the Feet Ceremony shall be omitted following the decree from the Congregation of Divine worship and the recommendation of Archbishop Peter Comensoli. Please sign up to keep Vigil with Lord in the sheet provided in the Foyer.
On Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion shall be commemorated in a morning and afternoon session. To make it possible for more people to participate in the Good Friday celebrations, please participate in one of the ceremonies only. Veneration of the Cross and distribution of Holy Communion shall take place in both ceremonies. Veneration of the Cross shall be by genuflecting or bowing to the Cross. No touching or kissing of the Cross. The Good Friday collection to help Christians in Holy Land shall be taken up in both ceremonies. If we have good weather, the 3.00pm ceremony may take place outside the Church.
The Easter Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection shall be celebrated with the Ceremony of Light. However, while everyone will have a candle, only the altar ministers shall process with the Easter Candle. The rest of the congregation at Mass shall participate from their pews.
Easter Day Masses shall proceed as usual. Five and three Masses shall be celebrated between the Vigil Mass and the Easter Day Masses in St Francis Xavier’s and St John’s Churches, respectively. Please participate in one Mass only. Parishioners of St Francis Xavier’s and St John’s may consider participating at the dawn Mass, (5.00am at SFX), or 8.30am Mass in both Churches rather than concentrating at the 10am Mass in St John’s and 10.30am Mass in St Francis Xavier’s.
May the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ bring the pandemic to an end, and healing on humankind. Amen.
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp