In light of the recent escalation in influenza cases in Alberta, Archbishop Richard Smith has directed that parishes in the Archdiocese implement a number of temporary measures to guard against the spread of disease. These include:
  • Discontinue the reception of the Precious Blood as part of any public celebration of the Eucharist.
  • Limit the reception of the Body of Christ to the hands only.
  • Suspend the practice of shaking hands during the Sign of Peace. This can be replaced by a bow or an intentional nod of the head toward those around you.
  • Empty all holy water fonts.
  • Be mindful of the importance of basic health measures. For example, thorough hand washing is an effective means of preventing the transmission of infectious material (nasal secretions, saliva, etc.) from soiled hands. Make alcohol-based hand sanitizing solution or tissues available in the church entrance.
  • Encourage all parishioners to remain home at the first sign of illness, especially a cough or fever, out of respect for their brothers and sisters. Those who stay home can view a televised Mass on Salt+Light Television, on EWTN Television, or online at They can also make a Spiritual Communion; instructions for this are posted on our Divine Worship page. 
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should sanitize their hands immediately before receiving Communion themselves and avoid touching their face or other surfaces such as handrails before distributing Communion. Rub hand sanitizer over the hands until completely dry. (The sanitizer must evaporate or stay on the skin for 10 seconds to achieve any antibacterial/antiviral effect.)
  • Pastoral care team members who bring the Blessed Sacrament to shut-ins should not attend any homes where influenza is known or suspected to be present.
  • All pastoral care visitors to hospitals and nursing homes, whether clergy or lay volunteers, must observe all posted infection control procedures at these institutions (e.g. hand sanitizing, gowning, masking.)
“Please note that the decision to impose restrictions on the liturgy was not made lightly,” Archbishop Smith wrote in a January 8th letter to priests. “It was based on prayer, reflection and consultation with Alberta Health Services, the agency which is in the best position to assess local conditions and risk. It is my intention to lift the restrictions as soon as the provincial health authorities assure us that the risk of influenza infection has dropped substantially. “

Archbishop Smith also asks that we pray for the comfort and healing of all those afflicted by the illness, those who have died, and for those who are caring for the sick.