Sunday Mass obligation set to resume

For Catholics in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Sunday Mass will become obligatory once again after a general dispensation was granted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restoration of the obligation comes after more than two years of suspension, with the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese being one of the last dioceses in Australia to lift their dispensations.

In a letter to parishes released today, Archbishop Christopher Prowse said the Sunday obligation would resume from the first Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2022.

The Archbishop’s decision to lift the COVID-driven exemption was in response to local government’s easing of restrictions and the lifting of the pandemic declaration as of 14 October 2022.

“We appear to be coming to an end of this long and, for so many, most terrifying time,’ said Archbishop Prowse.

In his letter, the Archbishop explained that reinstating the obligation did not bind those with serious health concerns or who were physically or otherwise prevented from participating in the Mass.


“Indeed,” he said, “I ask you to remain at home if you are feeling unwell, have cold or flu symptoms, or believe you pose a risk to the health of others.”

“We pray for each other, especially for those who continue to suffer in any way from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Archbishop’s decision underlined the importance of the Mass and the Eucharist for Catholics and the “special way” that “we gather as a community for prayer and action, walking together in our faith and celebration”.

Referring to his recently announced year of synodality, the Archbishop encouraged all to continue “Walking Together” as the Archdiocese prepared for the seasons of Advent and Christmas.



Wordpress (15)
  • Anne 11 months

    I hope the 11am mass continues to be televised. It is a great comfort to the elderly and long term sick at home to have a familiar mass available to them. 

    • nessa 11 months

      ….and now there is an upsurge in cases again.

    • Rosemary Frances Patyus 11 months

      Agree. It is a great blessing for the times we are unable to get out to Mass.

  • Dennis Ryan 11 months

    Your Grace, Thank you for this announcement. Would you please advise me of the dates that this obligation was initiated and suspended so I can get my sacramentals in order. Thank you.

  • Brian 11 months

    OBLIGATORY ……… a poor choice of word for today’s growing appreciation of the meaning of being present &.   
                                      accountable for one’s freedom to participate in such a communal CELEBRATION.

  • Katrina Edwards 11 months

    It is disappointing that this is being done without any supporting measures to ensure the safety of parishioners at Mass, such as ensuring all churches have effective ventilation and air filtration, that people wear masks indoors to protect both themselves and more importantly others, and where possible having more frequent masses to keep congregation numbers smaller.

    The Mass obligation, and access to the sacraments, is a vital part of our faith, and should be made possible in a way that enables all, not just the (currently) healthy or those oblivious to the dangers, to participate.

    The often repeated claim by our politicians that the pandemic is over is clearly nonsense – hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people are still dying of COVID and its subsequent complications (so called ‘excess deaths’) in Australia every week, and it seems numbers are once more on the rise. More importantly, the real risks of COVID seem to be not just in deaths, but in the significant number of people who do not recover quickly or at all (long COVID), the almost universal weakening of immune systems that is making us all prey for other diseases, and the virtually universal accelerated ageing due to organ damage that is now becoming apparent.

    The pandemic shows no signs of going away anytime soon – rather it requires a radical rethink of how our infrastructure is designed, just as previous pandemics forced changes such as clean drinking water and sewerage. As Christians, in the public sphere we should not be ignoring these issues, and going along with the zeitgeist, but rather be demanding that public health be prioritised over vested interests.

    And in our own churches, we should be working to rethink how we can face up to these realities, both by creating safer environments for the sacraments, by re-emphasising the importance not only of the Eucharist but also of penance and reconciliation, and by finding better ways to support people unable to attend Mass for health reasons such as the Liturgy of the Hours.

    • Gino L. Fatto 11 months

      Well said Katrina. This is very unfortunate timing. I have really enjoyed being able to go to a real Mass over the last few months and feeling somewhat safe with the weekly explicitly stated encouragement of the wearing of masks at my Parish. However, with the latest wave clearly upon us (highest, by some margin, weekly numbers of new cases since they reverted to weekly reporting and hospitalisations on the rise now too) I will be reverting to online Masses for a while. Your suggestion of more frequent Masses to keep congregation numbers smaller is pleasing. There was a time during the pandemic when we had to make a booking to go to Mass because there was a limit to the number who could attend based on the floor area of the church. At the time I did think (out loud on occasions) that more Masses each weekend would ensure that people would not be turned away. It is not that long ago that a Parish would have up to 5 Masses per weekend.

      • Ben 11 months

        Hopefully, we are all doing our part by praying for Vocations and volunteering where applicable! Easy to point the finger but unfortunately, there are only so many priests and limited finances to support the workings of the local church.

  • Anne King 11 months

    What is the teaching on receiving the Holy Communion on the tongue after Cova .and now as we may be heading for another change in receiving Him. Anne 

  • Frances Woodward 11 months

    Am a bit surprised at the timing of this return to ‘obligation’with the new wave of sub variants of the virus already sweeping the country and code Amber declared for Q’ld plus masks being recommended for indoor settings and some restrictions being considered for vulnerable settings. The pandemic is not over and the Mass can easily become a ‘super spreader event. Personally I would like to see the 12:15 daily mass not just available continuously for vulnerable people, but recorded and available for at least 36 hours.

  • Mari Mulcahy 11 months

    “Appear to be coming to an end ”

    I don’t think so.

  • Elizabeth Hannan 11 months

    Like some others, I think the pronouncement for Sunday Mass to become obligatory is wrong timing.

    In The Canberra Times on Saturday Nov 12, 2022, the ACT Health Minister was reported as saying “the whole community should be thinking about their responsibilities to wear masks and maintain physical distance in indoor spaces, particularly with people they don’t know.

    The other thing I would be encouraging Canberrans to do is to think ahead about some events you might be having in November or December. If you can have those events outdoors then think about doing”

    The ACT Health Minister statement suggesting ways to control the spread of Covid is clearly at variance with the Archbishop’s statement announcing the ceasing of the exemption for Sunday Mass obligation.

    Many who are currently attending Sunday Mass are over the age of 60 and as such are vulnerable persons for catching Covid. Some of these vulnerable older people wear masks and currently are attending Sunday Mass where the Priest and those distributing Holy Communion wear masks and where there is social distancing. How can these measures be followed if there are more people attending Sunday Mass. If the Archbishop’s decision is implemented older persons and others including those with serious health concerns will be deprived from attending Sunday Mass.

    How can the Archbishop show more understanding and pastoral care to those affected? How will the Archbishop ensure that the guidelines of ACT Health Minister are followed?

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      If people are sick or unwell then the Sunday obligation is fulfilled by participating as one is able in the life of the ecclesial community. The obligation is a reminder of the importance of continuing to build community rather than living as an individual – as Christianity is a communal religion. The obligation is to participate as well as one is able in the life of the believing community.

      Live-streamed masses are available throughout the Archdiocese. The Cathedral live-streams Mass seven days a week. To view Mass online please go to Please check with your local parish about their live-streaming services

  • Kerry Blase 11 months

    In fact, do a Google search to be fed by some of the most amazing homilists in the world, have a look at the very professional streamings from New York, Ireland, Washington, England… I find our Cathedral homilies weak and don’t stimulate me to unpackage the readings of the day. I am old and need theological stimulus, not obligatory dogma any more, Kerry 

  • Rose 10 months

    I will not be returning to Sunday Mass at this time. People in my community will continue to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist in person mid week when there are less people there and it is possible to social distance and exercise appropriate caution. Appropriate cautions at Sunday Masses are hardly observed and consequently/unfortunately Sunday Masses near us have become super spreader events. It has been a great blessing to attend Sunday Mass online in parishes in South East Asia, the Middle East, Canada and the USA, England and Ireland. I do not consider these to be virtual Masses…especially when the online parishes warmly welcome their own parishioners unable to attend and other international online guests to the celebration. We are a global church using technology to share our faith and praying together in a challenging time.