Crisis and faith

By Andrew Smith

COVID-19 hits hardest where community is concerned. For members of local religious organizations, responsibilities to public health can make it hard to attend services.

As of Nov. 24, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 476 people in Alberta. As of the 22nd, there have been more than 48,000 cases in Alberta, of which approximately 35,000 have recovered.

Many churches have been forced to get inventive to allow their congregation to attend mass. St. Joseph’s Basilica, who recently dedicated their All Soul’ Day Mass to victims of the virus, has implemented different ways to take part in church activities from the safety of your home.

“It’s a very sensitive, painful time. To be able to come and offer that love, offer that grief, through the Mass, to the Lord is a great source of consolation,” Archbishop Smith said in an interview with Grandin Media.

Masses can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube, grandinmedia.ca, and even Telus Optik TV on channel 876. Mass can still be attended in person, and parishioners are asked to register in advance for any mass they wish to attend online at https://stjosephbasilica.com.

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Face covering is mandatory, and attendance will be cut to 1/3 of fire code occupancy as per Premiere Jason Kenney’s new COVID-19 regulations for places of worship on Nov. 24.

“The need to come together in faith for consolation and hope is only intensified because of what we’re going through here with the pandemic,” says Archbishop Smith.

Family gatherings for things such as Advent or Sunday meetings for Children’s Liturgy of the Word can be attended on Zoom.

Edmonton’s First Presbyterian Church has begun streaming Sunday services on Twitch.tv, but all in-person services have been suspended since March.

“It’s tough to not be able to attend masses,” says Taylor Lowe, a Sunday churchgoer. “But I’m glad I can still stay up to date with my church and its’ activities.”

Being physically detached from her church isn’t all bad. Taylor says that she often feels unsafe in public spaces recently because of the pandemic.

“It’s pretty good for multitasking, too,” she says. “I can pray and make lunch at the same time, and no one’s the wiser!”

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