A photo of Christ the King Catholic Church in Courtenay. Photo via ctkparish.ca

A photo of Christ the King Catholic Church in Courtenay. Photo via ctkparish.ca

LETTER -Comox Valley priest responds to Vancouver bishop’s complaints about COVID restraints

Dear editor,

I noticed that the Record invited a discussion on the Archbishop of Vancouver’s statements about the recent lockdown of worship spaces in our province.

RELATED: B.C. archbishop says there was ‘no evidence’ given for ban on in-person religious services

Just as it is important to be make policy decisions based on the most accurate knowledge available, so it is important that such a discussion should reflect the reality in the Valley. As the pastor of the only ordinary Roman Catholic Parish in the Comox Valley, I will offer what I can.

In the Roman Catholic Church, even though we are in communion with churches across the world, each local church is governed separately. This means that the church on Vancouver Island is separate from the church in Vancouver.

When COVID started to spread within Canada, each bishop in B.C. voluntarily closed our churches. During this time, the bishops consulted with each other as well as with health care experts, community members, and local clergy to find the best way we could serve our people. When we re-opened our churches on Vancouver Island on Pentecost Sunday (May 31), each parish was given a series of guidelines that allowed us to conduct our services in a safe and reverent manner. Not only did we comply with all the province’s regulations, we did more. Jesus said: “If anyone asks you to go one mile, go for a second mile also.” (Matt 5:41)

Here in the Valley, we had about 500 parishioners registered to come back to church. We simply could not fit them all in at once so we created 10 micro-communities of 50 that would attend services throughout the week. They also remained as a bubble so that if anyone contracted COVID in their group, they could be isolated from each other. Our worship space is also large enough that we can easily fit 50 people and maintain appropriate social distancing. After each service, each community would clean the worship space and log what they had done. As a backbone to this, our office administrator and maintenance manager continued to work. I believed it would be unjust to lay someone off simply because collections went down.

In addition to Christ the King Parish, I can say that many other Christian communities in the Valley were compliant with the province’s regulations. We love our people in our own flawed human way. Because of the protocols mentioned and many more, I sympathize with Archbishop Miller’s position. Of any public place over the last few months, I feel safest in our parish. I say that knowing the hard work that our hospitals and retail outlets have put in to making their locations safe. Regardless of these successes, our parish is again closed and live-streaming in unity with the whole province. In fact, when the news came on Thursday afternoon, we were able to use our protocols to get the word out very quickly.

Mistrust and fear are deadlier and spread faster than any virus. It is true that some of us feel singled out by this lockdown. We are offering our point of view in kindness to build bridges and honest dialogue. I believe that Archbishop Miller said what he said in love to help our province and its leaders. I also acknowledge that it is not advantageous for the government to provide a particular worshipping community a dispensation in such times. In this situation, I see again an application of Jesus’ challenge to his disciples: When they tell you to go a mile, go for two.

Sad as it is not to be with my parishioners, we will render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

In the meantime, the people of Christ the King pray for Archbishop Miller, our local Bishop Gary, Dr. Henry, Premier Horgan, and especially for all the residents of our beloved Comox Valley

God bless.

Fr. David Hagman

Pastor of Christ the King Parish

Comox ValleyLetter to the Editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left - Rev. Sulin Milne, rector of St Peter’s, Karen Cummins and Bill Henderson of Nature Comox Valley pose for a photo with the newly-planted Garry oak tree. Photo supplied
Young Garry oak planted at St. Peter’s church gardens as a sign of resiliency

By Tony Reymolds Special to The Record St Peter’s Anglican Church, Comox,… Continue reading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Most Read