Public Liturgical Celebrations Suspended in Mauritius Following Spike in COVID-19 Cases

St. Louis Cathedral in the Diocese of Port Louis, Mauritius

A day after the leadership of Mauritius announced a two-week national lockdown to control the spike in daily COVID-19 cases, liturgical celebrations in public have been suspended in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

“Masses and public celebrations are suspended. However, each Priest could look for ways to animate prayer from a distance, to keep in touch by phone or through social networks,” the Bishop of Port Louis Diocese, Maurice Cardinal Piat said Wednesday, March 10.

Cardinal Piat added, “For Sunday Mass, and even on weekdays, the Priest could celebrate Mass alone, or with a confrere, at the parish and share a video of this Mass on social networks.”

In the statement published on the website of his Diocese, the member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) also directed that churches remain closed except for funerals , which “will only be celebrated in the presence of a maximum of 30 people” while observing COVID-19 guidelines.

“For the sacrament of the sick in the hospital, Priests can go there on condition that they obtain the same protective measures as the nursing staff. They will avoid touching the patient and impose the oils with cotton,” the 79-year-old Mauritian Cardinal directed.


For the sacrament of the sick at home, “Priests could go there if they are satisfied that the measures of distancing and health protection can be provided at home,” the Cardinal added.

Other church activities suspended include baptisms, communion with patients who are not in danger of death, catechesis, and meetings of church movements.

In a televised address to the nation on the evening of Tuesday, March 9, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, announced a nationwide lockdown that will last until March 25.

"This containment became necessary after the appearance of four new local positive cases of COVID-19, bringing to 14 the number of local positive cases registered since March 5,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.

The 1.2 million-population island nation has recorded at least 641 COVID-19 cases, 588 recoveries and 10 related deaths.

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In his March 10 directives, Cardinal Piat invited the Clergy “to ask members of Caritas and Quartier Pastoral Council in their parish to be attentive to the needs of isolated people, those who live from day to day, the elderly or who cannot move around.”

On the same day, the leadership of the Church in the country announced that the crypt of renowned French Spiritan Priest, Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval popularly known as the “Apostle of Mauritius” would remain closed to the public “until further notice.”

In a separate statement issued Thursday, March 11, the Apostolic Administrator of the country’s Vicariate of Rodrigues, Mons. Luc René Young Chen Yin announced the suspension of all religious gatherings except funerals starting March 12 through March 21.

The decision, the member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) said, was arrived at by “mutual agreement” during the same day’s meeting of religious leaders in the area, which was convened by the Chief Commissioner amid increasing COVID-19 reported cases. 

Mons. René urged the people of God in his jurisdiction to continue observing preventive measures such as wearing masks, physical distancing and washing of hands.


“I am counting very much on your understanding and your cooperation,” Mons. René said in his statement published on the website of Port Louis Diocese.

On their part, officials of the Directorate of the Diocesan Service of Catholic Education (SeDEC) of Port Louis Diocese announced the establishment of a communication protocol for any case of COVID 19 in their primary and secondary schools.

In a March 11 statement addressed to parents, staff and the public, SeDEC officials say that any suspected case of COVID-19 is to be reported to the relevant authorities by the administration of the affected school in an ethical and confidential manner.

“We are confident that we will succeed in meeting the challenge in solidarity,” officials of the Catholic entity said.