URGENT UPDATES REGARDING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – 14 March 2020
My brothers and sisters in Christ:
Certainly we are all concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially in that we have many parishioners who are in populations that are considered to be in high-risk categories. First, and foremost, we must commend this matter to prayer; we must ask Almighty God to avert this pandemic from us, and to bless and protect all healthcare professionals on the front lines of fighting this virus. Second, Bishop Jugis has asked us to make greater efforts to reduce person-to-person contact and large gatherings, in an effort to reduce exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
To that end, I am taking the following actions; keep in mind, we hope these actions will be necessary for a relatively short time, so do not let them overwhelm you:
* The Bishop of Charlotte has waived the obligation of the faithful to attend Sunday Mass (which naturally includes the Anticipated Mass of Saturday, known as the Saturday Vigil); therefore, you are not obligated to come to Mass, whether you are ill or not; make the prudent choice for you and your family, keeping in mind that Gov. Cooper (NC) has asked us to avoid gatherings, especially those over 100 people.
* All functions and activities, except Holy Mass and Confessions, are cancelled through April 5, 2020. At that time, we will reevaluate the situation, and may need to extend this period.
* You will notice that all books (missalettes, hymnals, and the like) have been removed from the church, as have the Holy Water fonts.
* There shall be no hand shaking, hand holding, and the like during Mass; the Sign of Peace will not be offered.
* The faithful may receive Holy Communion during Mass in the following manner: in the hand, on the tongue, or may refrain from either, and engage in spiritual communion. The decision on how to receive Holy Communion is that of the communicant, using reason and personal piety.
* Lay Extraordinary Ministers shall not be taking Communion to the homebound, retirement/rest homes, or hospitals, until further notice. Therefore, do not fill a pyx with a host prior to Mass, as you have typically done. In the case of the danger of death, where there is a need for Communion/viaticum, and/or anointing, a priest should be notified by the family.
* Through April 5, 2020, and subject to extension, all non-liturgical functions at the Church, St. Joseph Center, and school are cancelled, including, for example, faith formation, youth groups, prayer groups, ministries, social activities, support groups, retreats, study groups, group meetings, RCIA, Donut Sunday, and choir practices. Please consider distance learning and conference calls for functions like RCIA, and various board/council meetings (e.g., St Gerard Board, Finance Council, etc., who meet in the SJC/meeting rooms).
* All Public Stations of the Cross on Friday’s are cancelled (feel free to pray this devotion on your own); also cancelled is Adoration and Fr. Cook’s conference on Tuesday evenings; no groups may gather for Adoration until further notice.
* Any room reservations for groups, meetings, etc., are hereby cancelled; you are not to meet at the SJC or in the church or school, and will have to make other arrangements during this period. Consider meeting in homes, or alternative places, if you so choose; Base Communities must make their own decisions as to whether to continue to meet during this pandemic.
* The Church building will be locked at 3:00pm every day (except Saturday and Sunday, when the Church shall be locked as soon as possible after the final Mass of the day), so that our maintenance staff can conduct sanitizing and cleaning activities, according to CDC guidelines, to prepare the space for the next day.
* The Parish office will be open, although it may become necessary to close to the public (you would still be able to interact with our office via telephone/email/U.S. Mail, should we need to close our office to visitors; as of now, our staff plans to be working).
* Finally, I would ask the faithful of our Parish to continue your stewardship of treasure by continuing your financial support of our parish during these trying times. We encourage parishioners who may not be able to attend Mass to continue their weekly offertory gifts to the parish through the mail or electronic giving. We want to continue to pay our employees and pay our bills, but we also anticipate charitable needs to increase during this pandemic.
Please know of my prayers, and the prayers of Fr. Taylor, and Deacon’s Mark and Sig, for you all. Please join us in prayer, as we entrust all things to God. We will make it through this, with the help of God, and by making well-informed decisions about our public interactions.
Rev. W. Christian Cook
Pastor, Immaculate Conception