Empty pews on Sunday amid virus fears

Our Lady of Good Counsel Toronto Catholic Church

Although services  have been cancelled at churches of various denominations throughout Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic, several persons from Toronto’s Caribbean community showed up as usual on Sunday at their places of worship.

At the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel on College Street where hundreds of  Roman Catholics from the Caribbean  attend mass, a small group who came to the church on Sunday was told of the cancellation.

Rev. Father Carlyle Guiseppi, the priest at the church, told The Caribbean Camera that that announcement of the cancellation by the Archdiocese of Toronto was made on Friday and some people had not heard about it.

He said  fewer than 10 people showed up and were invited to come iu to the church to pray.

The Archdiocese had cancelled  weekend masses after Ontario’s chief medical officer urged all public gatherings be limited to a maximum of 250 people.

The announcement came in a statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins.

“We will assess the situation for next weekend and any other that is required after consulting health officials,” the statement said.

Jamaica-born Rev. Jacqueline Daley, the priest at  St. Margaret’s Anglican church in South Etobicoke, said although church members were informed  about the cancellation of services,  “just a  few ” showed up at her church on Sunday.

“My leadership team and I had made phone calls to persons on  our membership list and I had sent out  emails about the cancellation.  I was also present in the community at the usual time. So I was able to inform those who showed up at the church about the situation.”

Two national Islamic groups have urged mosques around the country to cancel Friday prayers.

In a joint statement issued last Thursday evening, the Canadian Council of Imams and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada recommended that services be suspended indefinitely

“As Muslims, we must do our part to reduce the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

The groups say they are forming a task force, made up of representatives from each as well as community leaders, to advise mosques in the days and weeks ahead.