Updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions
Update: Bishop Knestout Self-Quarantines
Today Bishop Knestout announced that he has the symptoms of a minor cold and has gone into a quarantine as advised by his doctor. Read the announcement here. He reports that he feels fine, but please keep him in your prayers.
All public Masses suspended in the Diocese of Richmond
Today Bishop Knestout released the latest announcement as part of an active plan to respond to the coronavirus concern. Until further notice, all public Masses will be suspended in the diocese. Churches are to remain open to encourage private prayer, with the number of people in the church never to exceed 50. Read the details of the announcement here, or the bishop's letter to the faithful of the diocese here.
March 14; 4:00 p.m.:
Bishop Knestout has just made it clear that if anyone is concerned about coming to a public gathering then there is no obligation to attend Mass. In order to further support the flexibility of not being in church this weekend, I will be recording Mass to upload onto YouTube, to be available sometime tomorrow. The recording will take place in the small chapel at Sacred Heart. Please join us in keeping the Lord's day holy and praying for all who are affected by the many changes happening at this time.
March 13, 2020; 8:00 p.m.:
At the present time, Bishop Knestout is asking for liturgies and Sacraments to continue, so we will have weekend Mass. However, other gatherings of more than 15 people should be suspended until further notice. In our cluster, this will include all religious education programming, social events, and adult formation gatherings until March 30th.
Homilies are uploaded weekly to the Parish App and I am looking into the possibility of using audio or video from a full weekend Mass to be available on the website.
These types of health obstacles are not new and present us with a challenge to have more faith and creativity in our spiritual journey. Please continue to be vigilant about hygiene, noting the extra precaution that our more vulnerable population should take.
Sincerely in Christ,
While we are generally cautious during flu season with hand washing and the spreading of germs, we are taking extra precautions at this time. If you are sick or recovering from sickness, please refrain from coming to church. Extra care should be given to the elderly or those who are susceptible to illness. The bishop has given a dispensation as shown below, always with the command to keep the Lord's day holy.
"Persevere in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."
Dispensation from the Bishop
"Until further notice, Bishop Knestout has granted a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days to the following persons most susceptible to the effects of the Corona virus/COVID 19:
those 60 years of age or older;
those with chronic illness; and
those with immune system deficiencies.
The dispensation is also extended to those caring for people who are presently ill or who assist those in the three groups indicated."
Link to richmonddiocese.org/coronavirus
Precautions during Mass
We will cease distribution of the Precious Blood during communion
Please refrain from shaking hands during the sign of peace (a bow, wave, or verbal gesture will be sufficient)
Please refrain from holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer
We will remove Holy Water from the Baptismal font and smaller fonts at the doors.
Ministers should use hand sanitizer before and after communion
Sacred vessels should be washed with soap after each Mass
Additionally, we strongly recommend that all parishioners should receive Holy Communion in the hand during this time. It is difficult to ensure that the Eucharistic Minister will not touch the tongue of the person who is receiving Communion.