Access to Churches and Sacraments
Since 19 Jun 2020, MCCY announced that places of worship can gradually resume more religious activities, with the necessary precautions to safeguard public health. In particular, places of worship have to put in place safe management measures that reduce the density, intensity and duration of physical interactions during religious activities.
Under this phase 2, our churches have started to open progressively since July 2020. Our faithful are now able to book for the Masses online using the Mass Attendance Registration System (MARS).
Yes, Safe Management Plans will differ from Church to Church. This is because each Church is unique, particular and peculiar unto itself. Size, layout, infrastructure and even resources deployed on the ground will differ.
The Safe Management Plan which is set out according to the needs of a particular Church, is submitted by the Church’s Safe Management Officer to Crisis Preparedness Religious Organisations – CPRO (MCCY), which is the approving authority for all SMPs submitted by all Religious Organisations.
Please contact your Church directly to enquire on the sacraments.
In alignment with the updated Ministry of Health advisories, we continue to recommend that non-essential events to be cancelled or deferred. If suitable, these may be replaced by online activities.
For all other essential parish organised events, the following precautionary measures must be observed:
- Remind participants not to attend the event if they are unwell, even if the symptoms are mild.
- Perform temperature screening and look out for respiratory symptoms (i.e. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose) amongst participants;
- If possible, participants should make a Health declaration that they do not have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose.
- Deny entry to unwell participants;
- Maintain a registration list of participants for contact tracing;
- Practise social distancing by seating the participants at least 1 meter from each other.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning of commonly used areas.
Please contact your Parish Priest or the Parish Safe Management Officer (SMO) for further details of the specific Church’s Safe Management Plan (SMP).
In all cases, the usual measures will need to be implemented, namely health declaration, temperature screening, contact tracing, social distancing by seating the participants at least 1 meter from each other.
Priests continue to celebrate private Masses daily for the Mass intentions that are offered. Please refer to the parish where you have offered Mass/Masses for more information.
The Church does not allow confession to be done in this manner. However, your sins are already forgiven when you make the act of perfect contrition.
“Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance. Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure.” – St Maximilian Kolbe
Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin:
- perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other,
- imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione, The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Contrition”).
When we go to confession, imperfect contrition is sufficient to receive the pardon of our sins. However, in extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is sufficient to have our sins forgiven.
Important: The act of perfect contrition includes the desire for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) and the intention to receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
- All persons who wish to go to church, whether they be ministry members, volunteers, or parishioners, can only go to ONE church for Mass or for any other activities. They must register at mycatholic.sg and choose only ONE church where they intend to volunteer or attend Mass at.
- This is to discourage cross-church infections arising from the movement of worshippers, ministry members and volunteers for Masses and other activities.
As of 1 Sept 2020, with the continued low transmission of COVID-19 in the community, and as part of the gradual safe resumption of activities, churches are allowed to accept columbarium visitors who are not presently registered with them under the Mass Attendance Registration System (MARS).
This means that a person is allowed to visit the columbarium of a church that he/she may not be registered with. However, this must be managed strictly on an appointment system according to prevailing government guidelines. Please contact the church directly to make an appointment.
House visits by priests are not encouraged during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To minimise the risk of cross infection across parishes, each priest is to serve in his appointed parish Church only. For priests who are not assigned to any parish, they are to determine ONE parish Church to serve in on a regular basis. Only when absolutely necessary may a priest serve at ONE OTHER designated Church, other than the one he is assigned to.
There should be no mingling with the parishioners or the priests of that parish, before and after the Mass.
During these extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic, couples and families should only choose either the priest (and hence the church he serves at) or the church (and hence the priests who serve there) for wedding or funeral services, not both.
While wedding and funeral Masses are permitted in Phase 2 of Safe Reopening, services should be kept to as short a duration as possible.
From 4 Aug 2020, religious organisations can:
- Conduct marriage solemnizations involving up to 50 persons (up from the previous limit of 20 persons) subject to the prevailing SMP of the individual church, excluding the solemnizer and religious and supporting workers, who must be kept to a minimum.
- Conduct wakes and funerals, installation of niches involving up to 30 persons at any one time (up from the previous limit of 20 persons), excluding religious and supporting workers who must be kept to a minimum subject to the prevailing SMP of the individual church.
Safe distancing measures should be observed with 1 metre between groups of up to 5 persons. Live singing and performances are not permitted.
Please refer to the Parish Priest or the Parish Safe Management Officer for further details of the specific Church’s Safe Management Plan (SMP) where you are holding your wedding or a family member’s funeral Mass.
Resumption of Masses
Bookings for October Masses begin next Tuesday, 22nd Sept in staggered scheduled timings across the churches.
- For the booking on 22nd Sept, the one weekend one Mass rule prevails. The two-weekend booking will only commence on 13th Oct.
- On 13th Oct, Tuesday at 0900hrs, you will have the opportunity to book a second weekend Mass for October, subject to availability at your registered church.
Weekday Masses continue to be unlimited across the month, on a one Mass one day basis at your registered church. Please be gracious. Book a Mass slot if you are sure you can attend.
48hrs before a Mass you have booked, a self-cancellation feature on MARS is available for you to free up your booking.
The Church met with the Minister for Health and the Minister for Culture, Community & Youth who encouraged the Church to resume activities with the necessary precautionary measures. This decision was reached after much discernment balancing the known risk of transmission based on available data, social responsibility, and our core mission of providing pastoral care and spiritual formation.
With the limited resumption of Masses allowed by the authorities, subject to the fulfilment of restrictive safety and health conditions, the Catholic Church approached the re-opening of Masses in a graduated and phased manner – prioritising first and foremost – the safety of our parishioners and priests.
Close contacts will be quarantined (for up to 14 days from the day the affected person attended Mass). This is why providing your contact details and which pew you were nearest at every parish Mass you participate in will help the Ministry of Health reach you if necessary. See FAQ on Temperature Screening and Contact Tracing.
The rest of the congregation will be advised to monitor their health (for 14 days as above) and see a doctor if unwell.
The Church has a responsibility to minister to the faithful and the regular celebration of Masses is an essential ministry. We will take the necessary precautions to contain and manage the risks, while enabling life to go on. This is the same risk that schools, for example, face in remaining open for their students. One is not obliged to fulfil the Sunday Obligation by attending the Sunday Mass. It is a decision that one has to make, taking into account the possibility of being infected even with all the precautionary measures. If one is not willing to take the risks, one is exempted from attending mass to fulfil the Sunday obligation. He can follow the on-line mass at https://www.catholic.sg/mass or spend time in prayer.
The Archbishop of Singapore, in consultation with his advisors, priests, laity, and health professionals, will monitor the situation and make further decisions as necessary to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful while also safeguarding their physical health.
If you are unwell, you should not be attending Mass, even if you have only mild symptoms or are wearing a mask.
This is because those with COVID-19 are infectious even with mild symptoms. You may endanger the health of your fellow Catholics in coming to Mass despite being ill.
While masks may reduce the risk of spread, they are not a guarantee against transmission. They may not catch all droplets, and you may still transmit the infection by inadvertently touching your face as well as other surfaces.
Some of the measures put in place include the following:
- Temperature screening of all people coming for Mass.
- Attendance and location registration for contact tracing.
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning of church premises
Additionally, some churches may on their own initiative put in place other additional measures, depending on the additional resources at their disposal.
No single measure is foolproof. Temperature-taking is one of a number of measures to mitigate and reduce the risk of transmission within a church setting.
Other measures include public education, personal awareness, good personal hygiene, reduction in shared items and surfaces, and regular sanitisation.
Should a case of COVID-19 occur, individuals who may have been in close contact with the case can be quickly identified and informed should they need to be quarantined for public health reasons or to seek medical help if they develop symptoms. This would also be important in protecting their loved ones in close contact with them.
If a case were to be confirmed, contact tracing will allow the Ministry of Health to inform individuals who were physically near the case for a significant period of time so that their health and that of their loved ones can be monitored and protected. Hence, it is to every person’s benefit to register their attendance and provide their contact details.
Many churches in Singapore are not designed for natural ventilation, and turning off the air conditioning could lead to even poorer circulation of air in these settings. Fans may exacerbate the situation by assisting in the spread of droplets.
Organisations may collect the personal data of visitors to premises for the purposes of contact tracing and other response measures in the event of an emergency, such as during the outbreak of the COVID-19. This may include NRIC, FIN, or passport numbers, as they can accurately identify individuals in the event of a COVID-19 case.
In the event of a COVID-19 case, data can be collected, used and disclosed without consent to carry out contact tracing and other response measures, pursuant to sections 1(b) of the Second, Third and Fourth Schedules to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), as this is necessary to respond to an emergency that threatens the life, health or safety of other individuals.
Organisations that collect such personal data must still comply with the Data Protection Provisions of the PDPA, such as making reasonable security arrangements to protect the personal data in their possession from unauthorised access or disclosure, and ensuring that the personal data is not used for other purposes without consent or authorisation under the law.
About Sunday Obligation
Catholics are obliged to assist at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (Canon 1247). When this is not possible for a grave reason, “the faithful are strongly recommended to take part in a liturgy of the Word…celebrated in accordance with the provisions laid down by the diocesan Bishop; or to spend an appropriate time in prayer, whether personally or as a family or, as occasion presents, in a group of families.” (Canon 1248)
No, Catholics are not obliged to receive Holy Communion at every Mass they attend. The canonical requirement is once a year (Canon 920) for those who are properly disposed.
Catholics whose state in life does not permit them to receive Holy Communion (eg. unconfessed mortal sin, irregular marital situation) are still welcome at Mass and are invited to make a Spiritual Communion instead.
The Eucharist is true bread from heaven for our journey towards Eternal Life. When “it is not possible to receive sacramental communion, participation at Mass remains necessary, important, meaningful and fruitful. In such circumstances it is beneficial to cultivate a desire for full union with Christ through the practice of spiritual communion, praised by St John Paul II and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 55).
Frequent spiritual communion keeps us close to Christ by sustaining and deepening our desire to receive Him. During the Mass broadcast, there will be an opportunity to make a spiritual communion in lieu of physical communion. You may use the prayer by St. Alphonsus Liguori, or express these sentiments in your own words:
My Jesus, I believe You are truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament.
I love You above all things and I desire to possess You within my soul.
Since I am unable now to receive You Sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as being already there, and I unite myself wholly to You;
never permit me to be separated from You.
Spiritual Communion doesn’t replace Sacramental Communion at Mass.
Spiritual Communion is an expression of our love for God. It doesn’t have to be practiced when there is no mass. You can make a Spiritual Communion as a preparation for mass as well. Spiritual Communion can be done everywhere. Driving to work, on the MRT, everywhere. How often can you express your love for God? As often as you wish. As often as you need God. As long as you feel you want to say a loving word to Jesus. (Fr Ignatius Yeo on KopiTalk, CatholicSG Radio)
No. Catholics may opt to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, read Scripture, conduct a private prayer service (https://www.catholic.sg/prayer-service-at-home/), or pray traditional devotions such as the Rosary or Novena. A good rule of thumb is to set aside at least half an hour for Sunday worship.