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Re: Request to Increase the Permitted Capacity for Liturgical Services and Rites in Ontario

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Coptic Orthodox Conference of Bishops of Ontario

The Honourable Doug Ford Premier of Ontario Legislative Building Queen’s Park Toronto, ON M7A 1A1 May 11, 2020

Dear Premier, Re: Request to Increase the Permitted Capacity for Liturgical Services and Rites in Ontario

We pray to the Lord that this letter finds you in good health. On behalf of all Coptic Orthodox faithful in the great Province of Ontario, thank you for your stalwart leadership, tireless effort and profound wisdom that you have exemplified in guiding our Province through the COVID-19 pandemic. We always pray for you during each liturgy we celebrate, and we ask the Lord to grant all leaders His grace and wisdom. At this time, we offer fervent prayers for God’s mercy for those who have suffered loss during this time and that He may extend His hand of healing for those who are sick.

As you can imagine, this has been a trying and painful time for our congregants. However, as we are part of the community, the Church supports all measures that have been taken and we continue to advocate for strict adherence to help flatten the curve. The safety and wellbeing of all Ontarians is our paramount priority.

While we have been able to transition many services online, one’s physical presence in the sanctuary to celebrate the rites of the church as one body in Christ cannot be replaced. We commend you for the specific care given to the needs of the faith community as in Ontario Regulation 52/20, it specifically delineated “gathering[s]…for the purposes of conducting religious services, rites and ceremonies.”

We ask that you continue to take the faith communities’ needs in consideration as you adopt further regulations. We ask for your support to permit churches to celebrate all Rites of the Coptic Orthodox faith by allowing churches to use, at any one time, up to twenty (20%) percent of the capacity of each of its sanctuaries as soon as possible. In order to ensure that this is safely implemented, we will:

  1. implement registration and scheduling protocols to ensure that all screening questions for COVID-19, including symptoms, travel and exposure to COVID-19 carriers, are answered and to control compliance;

  2. continue to implement strict safety policies in accordance with the provincial guidelines, including a robust sanitization process of the church;

  3. continue to provide all non-rites ministries, including the Sunday School Ministry online; and

  4. mandate a strict prohibition against any social gatherings.

While these decisions are difficult, we know that the benefits of the gradual increase in permitted attendance of the liturgical services is a great source of hope for our congregants. We know that celebrating the rites in the church will give congregants grace and peace, which will empower them in the COVID-19 fight.

We ask that this proposal be adopted as part of the early stages of the reopening plan that is currently being implemented by the Province of Ontario.

May God continue to guide you and grant you His grace and protection. In Christ, His Grace Bishop Mina, on behalf of himself and on behalf of His Grace Bishop Makar and His Grace Bishop Boulos

Cc: The Honourable Minister of Health Encl: On behalf of All Coptic Orthodox Parishes Listed in the Attached.

List of Coptic Orthodox Parishes in Ontario 1 Archangel Michael & St. Tekla Coptic Orthodox Church, Brampton 2 Archangel Michael & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, North York 3 Archangel Raphael & St. Marina Coptic Orthodox Church, Burlington 4 Canadian Coptic Orthodox Church of the Nativity, Mississauga 5 Canadian Coptic Orthodox Church of the Resurrection, Mississauga 6 St. Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church, Stouffville 7 St. George & St. Abanoub Coptic Orthodox Church, Milton 8 St. George & St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church, Ottawa 9 St. George & St. Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church, St. Catharines 10 St. George & St. Rueiss Coptic Orthodox Church, North York 11 St. John the Baptist & St. Elizabeth Coptic Orthodox Church, Oro Station 12 St. Mark & St. Mary of Egypt Coptic Orthodox Church, Ottawa 13 St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Markham 14 St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Scarborough 15 St. Mary & St. Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, Ajax 16 St. Mary & St. Joseph Coptic Orthodox Church, Richmond Hill 17 St. Mary & St. Maurice Coptic Orthodox Church, Kitchener 18 St. Mary & St. Moses Coptic Orthodox Church, Windsor 19 St. Mary & St. Samuel the Confessor Coptic Orthodox Church, Markham 20 St. Mary & St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Sudbury 21 St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, Ottawa 22 St. Mary St. John The Beloved Coptic Orthodox Church, Pickering 23 St. Maurice & St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church, Markham 24 St. Maximos & St. Dometius Coptic Orthodox Church, Mississauga 25 St. Mina & Pope Kyrillos Coptic Orthodox Church, Mississauga 26 St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, Hamilton 27 St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, Kingston 28 St. Moses & St. Katherine Coptic Orthodox Church, Toronto 29 St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, London 30 St. Peter & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, Oakville 31 St. Philopateer & St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church, Mississauga 32 St. Philopateer & St. Demiana Coptic Orthodox Church, Newmarket 33 St. Philopateer & St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Orthodox Church, North York 34 St. Philopateer Coptic Orthodox Church, Guelph 35 The Prophet Daniel & the Three Saintly Youth Coptic Orthodox Church, Mississauga 36 Ti Agia Maria & St Demiana Church, Etobicoke 37 Virgin Mary & St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church, Mississauga 38 Canadian Coptic Convent St. Mary, St. George & St. Philopateer, Paisley

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