Funerals, sacraments and parish activities during COVID-19

Published on 15th Mar, 2020
Funerals, sacraments and parish activities during COVID-19 Archdiocese of Wellington

The emphasis has been on the suspension of Masses during the COVID-19 emergency, but there are many other activities which take place in parishes. In his letter to parishioners Cardinal John Dew set out the following restrictions on parish activities:

Visits to the sick and housebound

Your pastoral team will make arrangements to ensure that those who are sick or housebound receive spiritual care. They will also keep in contact with those who are in self-isolation, and you should advise them if you are in this situation. Communion to the sick who are not in danger of death is suspended. Priests will continue to look after those who are critically ill, and the normal process for contacting a priest in your area should be followed.


The immediate family of the deceased (which must be fewer in number than 100 or the Ministry of Health’s future minimum number) may gather for the funeral rite, taking great care to practice social distancing. There are to be no prayer vigils the day before a funeral. The Rite of Committal will take place at the cemetery with the immediate family only. There will be no Requiem Masses at this time.

Marriages and Baptisms

Marriages without Mass and Baptisms may take place with immediate family members, provided they follow the regulations established by the Ministry of Health. Marriage preparation courses are suspended.

Parish activities

All parish gatherings are suspended. This includes meetings; sacramental programmes; the conferring of First Holy Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmation; Lent programmes; RCIA programmes; and the Second Rite of Reconciliation. Reconciliation will be available by appointment or at set times if it can be conducted in a safe way.

Parish Offices

Parish offices may make their own decision about remaining open, but must enforce social distancing with any visitors. If necessary the office may be closed to visitors but be accessible through its phone and email systems. There will be a way to contact a priest.

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