Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As you are all aware, the recent outbreak of the Wuhan
coronavirus, also called Covid–19, is of particular concern to
those who are elderly, have lung issues, or other underlying
conditions such as diabetes. As such the Parish of Saint Mary’s
will take certain precautions to minimize the chance of exposure.
First and most importantly, because of the risk to others, I also
ask each of you to consider staying at home on a Sunday if you
have either been exposed to the virus, or are suffering with
sneezing, coughing, and a temperature. Missing Mass under the
circumstances will be considered an act of Christian Charity, not a
dereliction of duty.
Likewise, if you are in a high risk category and choose to miss
Mass, I understand completely and do not consider that to be
negligence of your Mass obligation.
For the most part, the services will continue as normal. There will
be extra precautions taken by the Sacred Ministers to ensure that
the sacred vessels are clean and disinfected, and our hands are
washed and sterilized before each mass. It is typical for the Priest
to wash his hands before the start of the mass, and a ceremonial
washing before the consecration.
Reception of the Sacrament can be in one kind only, so if you
choose to just receive the Host that is understandable and
acceptable. Reception of the Chalice or use of intinction (the
Priest dips the Host in the Chalice) should also be safe, in part
based on the metal used to construct the Chalice, which has
antibacterial and antiviral properties, and in part because of the
high alcohol content of the wine. As Priest, I will use intinction
when I receive. The final ablution will not change. Reception in
either or both forms (or neither form) is entirely up to each
We will have our Lenten soup and bread supper on Friday, March
13. However, going forward I think it’s best to cancel the Palm
Sunday brunch, and to cancel Lenten meals before Stations
during the remainder of Lent. The Lenten meal in particular has
been a long-standing tradition at Saint Mary’s, and I do not
suggest this change lightly.
Another suggestion that has been put forward is to remove the
Holy Water fonts temporarily.
I believe these changes will be short-lived. I am of the opinion that
some of the concerns that are presented by the media have been
exaggerated for a variety of reasons. As they say in journalism, if
it bleeds it leads. I think the exaggeration of the threats for
advertising purposes or for political gain are sinful. For the vast
majority of the populace there is relatively minor risk involved.
However, and I cannot stress this too much, risk to our older
parishioners and those who have lung ailments in particular is
high. For that reason, we will take all reasonable precautions.
Pray for those in our country who are afflicted, those in other parts
of the world are seeing much higher rates of outbreak, for
healthcare workers were dealing with this daily, and for our
To avoid rumors, speculation, and inaccurate information, I recall
the words of a doctor I recently saw interviewed. He said the best
things we can do during this panic is wash our hands carefully,
avoid people who are exhibiting signs of illness, and turn off the
TV news. If you wish to find accurate information on the virus, I
strongly recommend going to the website of Johns Hopkins
University. They have what it is, I believe, the most accurate and
non-biased information available concerning the virus:
Stay safe, use reasonable precautions, and try to stay calm as
well. God bless you all.
Your servant in Christ,