Statement from Most Reverent Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta and
Gregory B Whitby AM KSG, Executive Director, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
12 March 2020
Dear Colleagues in Ministry,
As you are aware, our parishes, schools and Diocesan agencies are working closely with NSW Health and the relevant authorities in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19 (coronavirus). The health and safety of everyone in our community is of course our highest priority, so we felt it was important to provide you with guidelines that might help with some of the complex situations that could arise in your work.
Stay up to date
Websites such as NSW Health and Smart Traveller have the most current information and advice about COVID-19, health, hygiene and travel. Keeping up to date will help to heighten community awareness and minimise risk.
Keep your communities updated
Keep communications clear and remind people regularly where they can get more information and advice on the issues that are important to them. Of course, our communities are very diverse so it is important that we all acknowledge that the concerns about COVID-19 will be felt differently by different people.
The Church is committed to providing strong leadership at a central and local level as we respond together to COVID-19. This will mean responding quickly to issues as they arrive.
Be prepared to adapt and be flexible
Of course, we will also need to align our plans to recognise best practice as identified by Safework Australia and other recognised authorities.
Take appropriate steps at a local level
Parishes and schools are encouraged to respond at a local level, when possible, drawing on the best advice of relevant authorities:
- Consideration of whether large gatherings are absolutely necessary with a strong focus on health and safety in that decision
- Parish Priests may determine an appropriate local response to hygiene concerns about the circulation of the collection plate
- Principals may reflect on alternatives to meetings such as using technology to collaborate and communicate.
If you come to a determination that more significant action is needed in your community, please contact Bishop Vincent in the case of Parishes or Greg Whitby in the case of schools.
Thank you for the care and consideration that has been demonstrated as a Catholic community of faith and compassion as we respond to this important issue.
With prayerful remembrance during this season of Lent.
Most Reverent Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta
Gregory B Whitby AM KSG
Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta