Only a few days before the beginning of Lent this year, the province of Newfondland and Labrador had to go back to level 5 restrictions due to an outberak of the B117 variant of the COVID-19 virus and comunity transmission. Most parishes across the province had become accustomed to the “pandemic normal” procesdures, with reduced numbers allowed in the buildings, mask wearing and sanitizing, pre-registration, and online streaming of worship for those unable to attend. Guidelines had been published for the upcoming Ash Wednesday services to allow for some form of “safe” ashes, and also for various other Lenten and Easter services that required new approaches to allow for proper health guidelines to be followed.
But then the most recent outbreak of COVID-19 hit the province in early February, and things had to suddenly change again. With this news, the bishops announced a closure of the church buildings to the public, and so the clergy and people had to once again pivot to online worship.
Here are a few photographs from some parishes around the three dioceses from their Ash Wednesday worship. As always, we must make sure to appreciate the challenges that face our church leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.