NZ Catholics flock to online Mass in response to Covid-19 lockdown

Bishop Patrick Dunn celebrates Mass online

Many Catholic churches big and small around New Zealand are streaming Mass online daily for parishioners unable to attend Mass because of the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

All the country’s Catholic churches are closed, along with the places of worship of other faiths, because of the Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown which began at 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Many thousands of Catholics usually attend Mass at least weekly, with many attending daily, but they are now unable to do so until the restrictions are lifted, says Father John O’Çonnor, the church’s Acting Director of Liturgy.

“Many of this country’s Catholic priests and bishops are streaming Mass each day, from their own homes, even though they are the only one able to be present in person,” Father O’Çonnor said.

This follows the example of Pope Francis, who began live-streaming his daily morning Mass in the Vatican several weeks ago.

The Church is posting online Mass links on its National Liturgy Office website.  The page has regular updates of links in New Zealand and overseas, including to the Pope’s daily Mass, held at 7pm New Zealand time.

The lockdown has coincided with the 40-day season of Lent and Easter, the most important days of the Christian calendar, commemorating the death of Jesus on Good Friday (April 10 this year) and his resurrection on Easter Sunday (April 12).

Easter and Christmas (which celebrates the birth of Jesus) are times when Catholic churches are at their fullest.

On 20 March, the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome issued a Decree creating a Plenary Indulgence for people suffering from Covid-19 and affected by the many international lockdowns.  Details of this Indulgence are available from the NZCBC website here,  on Catholic diocesan websites, and in this Vatican News article.

Commenting on the Indulgence, Father O’Çonnor said the Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Anointing of the sick, and care for those in danger of death, were at the heart of Catholic life and priestly ministry.

“Pope Francis has expressed his concern and care enabling the church to offer the fullness of the love, forgiveness and mercy of God directly to all people who are unable to celebrate the sacraments, especially those who are most vulnerable and in danger of death.”

The six Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand today wrote a Pastoral Letter for the encouragement of all parishioners as everyone experiences this unprecedented lockdown. The Pastoral Letter is here as a PDF and here on a web page.

Pictured: Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn celebrates Mass online.