“Gradual restoration of public Mass” Announced for Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese

Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese, Nigeria.

The leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos in Nigeria announced, last Sunday, a gradual resumption of public Mass in anticipation of the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions by the government early this week.

In a statement issued Sunday, May 31, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos directed that “public Masses are to be celebrated on Sundays only for now and between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. in order to ensure that people do not break the curfew.”

The Archbishop “strongly encouraged” Priests to ensure a limited gathering of those who attend Mass by making “more Masses available for the faithful.”

“Attendance at Mass should be strictly under the direction and supervision of the Parish Priest who must ensure that there is a record of Parishioners that attend each Mass,” Archbishop Adewale said and added, “This he can ensure either through the use of the Parish Database in determining those who attend or through decisions on who comes from the Small Christian Communities.”

In his statement, the Nigerian Prelate further directed that “only Priests should celebrate Mass without wearing masks.”


“Other liturgical ministers on the Sanctuary should wear face masks,” he stated, adding that “the number of Ministers on the sanctuary should be reduced to the barest minimum, a lector and two Mass servers at most is recommended.”

“There should be minimal contact between the ministers,” the Archbishop directed adding that the sitting position of the ministers “be arranged bearing the required physical distance in mind.”

“Proper hygiene should be observed in the use of the microphone. Where possible, more microphones should be used by each minister,” the 61-year-old Archbishop further directed.

Nigeria has recorded at least 10,578 cases of COVID-19, which include 3,122 recoveries and 299 deaths. 

On Monday, June 1, the country’s Federal Government announced a four-week easing of COVID-19 restrictions effective June 2, paving the way to the resumption of public worship.

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The Chairman of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha announced the lifting of the restriction in a televised briefing, during which he said that churches and mosques are free to resume worship services while adhering to conditions such as wearing face masks, properly washing or sanitizing hands and maintaining social distancing.

In his May 31 statement, Archbishop Adewale directed that “the extraordinary ministers of the Holy Communion sanitize their hands before consecration.”

“Holy Communion should be received directly on the palm of the hand; no hand gloves,” he stated, adding that the Body of Jesus “be given without the words since face masks will not be worn” by the Priests.

Addressing the handling of offertory, the Local Ordinary of Lagos said that either collection bags with a long handle should be used or alternatively, parishioners go to the front of the sanctuary to give their offerings while maintaining physical distance.

In place of offertory processions, “the gifts for the Eucharist should be left on the Credence Table from where Altar Servers would bring them to the Priest for preparation,” the Local Ordinary of Lagos further directed.


He encouraged Priests in his jurisdiction to continue their “pastorally care for the sick, the elderly and those who cannot attend Mass.”

The care for the sick and elderly, which includes offering communion, anointing of the sick and penance, may be celebrated for those in need “at the discretion of the priest,” he said, adding that in these cases, the Priests and recipients of the Sacrament wear face masks, observe the required physical distancing, administer the anointing using a piece of cotton wool and use hand sanitizer before and after the administration of the Sacrament.

For the Sacrament of Penance, the Archbishop cautioned against small spaces saying, “A big space which allows for required physical distancing, privacy and above all the maintenance of the dignity of the Sacrament is to be adopted for use.” 

“Funerals may take place in compliance with the number of individuals permitted to gather while observing physical distance,” he directed and added that family members will be limited to five when observing the rite of reception at the entrance of the Church.

“The number of people at the interment should not exceed the maximum number of persons required at social/religious gathering,” he further directed, adding, “Physical distance and standard hygiene practices should be strictly adhered to.”

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When restrictions have been relaxed further, the Sacraments of baptism and marriage “may once again be administered, taking into account the number of individuals permitted to gather while observing the required physical distance,” Archbishop Adewale stated in his May 31 statement. 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.