Coptic Orthodox Conference of Bishops of Ontario
The Honourable Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
May 11, 2020
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. However, we defer to your judgment on the ultimate number you deem safe, but we ask that it be based on a percentage of capacity to adequately address the variances in the size of our sanctuaries. In order to ensure that any increase is safely implemented, we will:
- 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;
- continue to implement strict safety policies in accordance with the provincial guidelines, including a robust sanitization process of the church;
- continue to provide all non-rites ministries, including the Sunday School Ministry online; and
- 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.
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.
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.
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