UPDATE ON THE OWERRI ARCHDIOCESAN DIRECTIVES IN VIEW OF LENT AND EASTER CELEBRATIONS
We will continue to take necessary precautions to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in our environment and affecting our people by following these directives:
- All Christ’s faithful are to wear their face masks as they come for Holy Mass and other Church activities.
- Hand washing containers with water and soap are to be provided for worshippers to clean their hands. Sanitizers should also be provided. Individuals are encouraged to own personal sanitizers.
- Parishes/Chaplaincies/Institutions are encouraged to provide Infrared Thermometers to check temperature of worshippers.
- Periodic cleaning and disinfecting of places of worship should be done.
- Holy Communion is to be received on the tongue with utmost reverence, the priests carefully placing the Sacred Host on the communicant’s tongue. Priests are to wash their hands properly after receiving Holy Communion before going to serve the people. Priests must wear the face mask as they distribute Holy Communion. When the Priest comes to the communicant and says softly “the Body of Christ”, the communicant silently says “Amen” bowing his/her head and reverently bringing out the tongue.
- On Ash Wednesday with regard to the ashes: The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the usual formula: mmadu, cheta na aja ka ibu na aja ka i ga alaghachikwa. The priest then washes his hands and goes to sprinkle the ashes on the head of each person without saying anything.
Outside of Holy Mass the ashes will be sprinkled on people only in the context of the Liturgy of the Word.
- Fridays during Lent: Stations of the Cross will go on either in the Church or in the open while observing reasonable human distance. If in the Church, only the Mass Servers and the Priest are to move from station to station, while other Christ’s faithful are to remain in their seats. Stations of the Cross can be done at different times in order to prevent overcrowding.
- Cathedraticum: The Cathedraticum support funds are to be paid into the designated Archdiocesan account at the Chikum Microfinance Bank from the 15th March 2021 to the 22nd March 2021. All non monetary materials are to be submitted to the Finance Administrator’s office. Three delegates and the Priest(s) are to represent their Parishes or Institutions on the designated dates for Cathedraticum.
- Palm Sunday: The celebration with palms is to be done within each Parish Church without any procession. The people remain in their seats with their palms for the blessing.
Note: Holy Week Retreat and Confessions for Parishes are encouraged, especially, for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the Holy Week.
- The Chrism Mass
The Chrism Mass will be celebrated modestly with the following persons in attendance, namely: All priests in the Archdiocese, expanded executives of the Archdiocesan Council — Pastoral and Finance, five representatives each from the C.M.O, C.W.O, C.Y.O.N, Mary League, and two female Religious from each of the Congregations.
The time for the Mass is 9:00am.
- Holy Thursday — Mass of the Lord’s Supper — Evening
This will be celebrated in the normal way without the washing of the feet. The adoration of the Blessed Eucharist is to be observed, and the faithful divided into three adoration groups. The Adoration should end on or before 11:00pm.
- Good Friday — Veneration of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross will go on either in the Church or in the field while observing reasonable human distance. The Passion will only be read.
To the ten intercessions will be added — “A prayer for those affected, afflicted and scared by the coronavirus pandemic”.
After the Cross is unveiled three times on the steps of the Altar, only the chief celebrant will venerate with a kiss. Thereafter the Cross will be raised for general reverence and veneration.
- Easter Vigil
There will be no lighting of fire and no procession into the Church. The Paschal Candle will be lit in its usual position by the chief celebrant. The Exultet will be read or sung without incensation.
The final Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) can be done where they have been prepared. After the Gospel, the Homily follows and then the Renewal of Baptismal Vows. Holy Mass continues as usual.
- Easter Sunday
Holy Mass will be celebrated as usual with the Renewal of Promises. On this Sunday, Easter Season starts and so does the prayer Nuriwa Eze Nwanyi nke Eligwe or O Queen of Heaven Rejoice.
Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna
Archbishop of Owerri
February 9th, 2021