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Saskatoon Easter mass, Way of the Cross move online for 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic

Father Geoffrey Young, a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, has been on camera and music duty for his own services but said he’ll recruit a couple of people to help for Easter.
Father Geoffrey Young, a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, has been on camera and music duty for his own services but said he’ll recruit a couple of people to help for Easter. Global News

The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent thousands of Saskatonians from gathering for Easter mass this year, but Christians can still celebrate.

Parishes across central Saskatchewan have been streaming their services online, which will continue over Easter.

“Every priest — even priests that aren’t so tech-savvy — we’ve all been forced into kind of becoming millennial, video-blogging kind of people, which presents some challenges,” said Father Geoffrey Young, a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

“It’s been a huge adjustment for parishes and I would say everyone is doing quite well, all things considered.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatoon priest blesses city from the sky

Most churches with Saskatoon’s Roman Catholic Diocese are streaming services online.

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Young said it would be ideal if people could come to church, but he encourages people to celebrate holy week at home.

“It’s kind of a bizarre world right now for us where we have to say, ‘Stay at home and log on to Facebook or log into YouTube,’” he said.

“It’s sort of like a strange dream for most of us. We’re just trying to do our best to connect people.” 

Livestreaming Easter mass presents a challenge, he said, as the prayers and liturgies are elaborate. Young has been on camera and music duty for his own services but said he’ll recruit a couple of people to help for Easter.

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“We want to do it well, but also it’s obviously going to be a little bit more simplified,” he said.

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“We’re having to protect our people and that’s the most important thing.”

For more than 20 years, hundreds of people have gathered for Way of the Cross on Good Friday, but the event has been cancelled.

READ MORE: Way of the Cross in Saskatoon a chance to reflect on social justice

Instead, the diocese has put together a video that people can use to pray the Stations of the Cross.

“It will be a very different Good Friday for many Christians around the world, including Catholics here in Saskatoon, but we’ve asked people just to pray along with us in their own homes,” said Myron Rogal, coordinator for the diocesan office of justice and peace.

People can follow along at 10 a.m. on Friday, which is when the procession normally starts its walk through downtown Saskatoon.

“If they want to do it at that time, we’ll have that many more people praying together, which would be wonderful,” Rogal said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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