Saginaw Diocese Bishop Robert Gruss says these are challenging times all across our country and the globe. Be assured that the Diocese of Saginaw is doing all we can to assist Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the State of Michigan in preventing further spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Bishop said We are announcing new measures, including asking those who are most at risk to stay home and not attend Mass this weekend and through April 6th
Additionally, the Bishop said he is working with pastors to keep Masses below 250 people such as
having ushers count those coming through their doors and asking people to consider attending another Mass or Mass in another parish.
Anyone who is ill, suspects he or she is ill, or is considered vulnerable (people 60+ years of age or people with chronic illness, immune system deficiencies or other underlying health conditions should refrain from participation in public activities, including Mass.
Bishop Gruss said Parishes should cancel any non-liturgical events that will attract over 250 people or any non-liturgical event that will see people gathered in a space without the appropriate social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that a distance of six-feet is appropriate. As a practical example of this, our popular Lenten fish fries should become take-out only.
The following precautions are for all parishes:
·Refrain from shaking hands during the Sign of Peace (bow or verbal gesture is appropriate) or omit the Sign of Peace.
·Refrain from holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
·Cease distribution of the Precious Blood (Christ is fully present under both species of the Blessed Sacrament)
·Remove Holy Water from the Holy Water fonts.
·Strongly urge the faithful to receive the Holy Eucharist only in their hands instead of on the tongue to mitigate any transmission of saliva. However, that would still remain at the discretion of the Communicant.
·Priests, Deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist should practice good hand hygiene washing their hands before Mass and using hand sanitizer, available in a discreet location near the sanctuary, to cleanse hands before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.
● In your own care for the sick – visiting homes and health care facilities – I ask you to be generous in your time and prudent in your actions. Normal cold/flu season guidelines should be followed when visiting homes. When visiting health care facilities follow their guidance.
● We are suspending all parish faith formation classes and youth events for the same time period that the K-12 schools are closed in the State of Michigan. Pastors are encouraged to continue the formation of the Elect and Candidates for the Easter sacraments in a manner that reduces the possible spread of this virus.
There is constant change related to the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to monitor this situation and adapt our procedures as necessary. Educate yourself on the coronavirus. The resource links provided contain more information on the coronavirus from the CDC, the Saginaw County Health Department and the Diocese of Saginaw.