Ahead of “progressive resumption” of Public Worship in Senegal, Bishops Urge Prudence

Our Lady of Victories Cathedral in Dakar Senegal set to resume public worship on November 1.

Catholic Bishops in Senegal have announced the lifting of the suspension on the celebration of Mass in public effective November 1.

In a collective statement issued Friday, October 23, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Senegal urge the people of God in the West African nation to be prudent, adhering to the safety guidelines put in place by the government to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“We, your Bishops, in an attitude of prayer confident in the God of all mercy and protection, assured of the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, Queen of all Saints, are in favor, from November 1 2020, of the progressive resumption of Worship in our Dioceses, according to the appreciation of the Local Ordinaries and favorable conditions,” the Bishops in Senegal say.

They add, “Aware of the reality of the pandemic that afflicts our communities and families, we continue to urge you to be prudent and to take personal and collective responsibility.”

The Bishops emphasize that citizens “strictly comply with the health directives laid down by the competent services” and “remain attentive to our Pastors, Bishops, and Priests, in a spirit of communion and safeguarding human life which is our most cherished common good.”


Places of worship have remained closed in Senegal since March when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the West African nation.

On July 4, Senegal’s government announced that it had decided to roll back some lockdown restrictions in the country after two nights of violent protests against the prolonged curfew and lockdown, according to reports.

However, Bishops in Senegal decided to keep churches closed even after the government eased COVID-19 restrictions and urged the faithful “to be patient in faith and in hope.”

“Despite our common thirst to find our way back to our churches, we, your Bishops, urge you to be patient in faith and in Hope,” the Bishops said in their collective statement issued July 10.

In their October 23 statement, the Bishops attribute their decision to resume public worship to “a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the responsible and determined commitment of the Diocesan Communities, and parish councils (that have) set up an appropriate health security system that meets the standards set by the Ministry of Health and Social Action.”

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The decision is also in response to the “thirst for the Eucharist felt by the faithful, members of our communities, who have been deprived of Masses for months,” the Bishops add in their collective statement signed by the Local Ordinary of Dakar, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye.

They have also announced the unveiling of safety measures to guide public worship in all parishes saying, “We invite the faithful to respect social distancing, wash hands regularly and always put on their masks.”

“Offertory procession should be done while respecting basic hygienic; Churches should be disinfected before and after each celebration,” they add.

The Bishops further direct “Priests, our close collaborators, to multiply Masses, especially on Sundays, to offer many more faithful the possibility of participating in the Holy Eucharist, while avoiding large crowds.”

“Priests should ensure a limited number of the faithful attend Liturgical celebrations,” the Prelates say.


They congratulate and thank all faithful Christians for the “long wait lived in faith, patience, and dignity.”

“Throughout this time of trial, not only have you developed and appreciated the value of personal and family prayer but your Pastors, Priests, and Bishops, have never ceased to celebrate the Eucharist and the Holy Mysteries, in communion with you and for you,” the Bishops say.

In their collective message, they “give thanks to God for this decision to reopen churches, in the hope of a normal resumption of worship.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.