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Catholic church opening for three days for restricted worship

Archbishop Patrick Pinder announced yesterday that churches under the archdiocese will be open to the public under strictly limited operations over the next few days so that members can observe the Eucharistic adoration.

An official notice from the office of the archbishop outlined the guidelines under which the practice must take place, and the rules that must be followed by those who chose to participate inside of a church.

“On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – May 27, 28 and 29th, 2020 only – [I] am asking that parishes of the archdiocese of Nassau provide for private, individual and silent Eucharistic adoration,” Pinder said in the notice.

“This is provided for in the Emergency Powers (COVID 19)(No. 3) Order, 2020 (Section 11:3b) signed May 8, 2020. The following guidelines are to be adhered to strictly without exception or deviation: Church doors are to be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Doors are to be braced open so that the faithful do not have to touch door knobs.

“Hand sanitizer should be provided for and used by individuals before entering the building. Only 10 persons at a time should be allowed in the worship space.

“All must sanitize their hands. All must wear face masks. All must practice social distancing by being six feet away from the next person.

“In the presence of the exposed blessed sacrament there is to be private, individual, silent, personal prayer only. There is to be no music, no communal prayer and no communal singing. All hymn books and missalets are to be removed and not used at all.

“There are to be no liturgical rites whatsoever. There is to be no benediction and no public celebration of the Mass.

“The air conditioning is to remain off and, where possible, windows opened to allow for maximum fresh air. Persons should remain for no more than half an hour. Outside the church, persons should not congregate.”

Sunday church services were suspended in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents are permitted, however, to attend church for private individual prayer while “maintaining physical distancing”.

Many churches have had to adapt to a COVID-19 world by providing services online.

On Friday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that worship services are now permitted to be held on Family Islands cleared for normal commercial activity, and that drive up services are permitted on the remaining islands, including New Providence.

However, Catholic and Anglican bishops told their members that they will, for now, continue online services as they assess the new protocols.

For the particular exception now being made for the Eucharistic adoration, Pinder asked church staff to ensure that the guidelines are followed.

He also asked members to restrict their participation to only one day so that others would have a chance to take part.

“Considering the limited number of persons allowed in the church over this three-day period, only one visit per person is permitted,” Pinder said.

“That is to say, if you go on Wednesday do not return on Thursday or Friday. This allows others an opportunity to make a visit to the blessed sacrament.

“Pastors, parish priests and parish administrators are asked to ensure that these guidelines are adhered to and no one should engage in or permit any breach of these guidelines.

“The preservation of our public health is much too important.”

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