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SSPJ Concerns regarding Coronavirus 

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Mass Attendance during Virus Season 

Diocese of Rockville Centre

                            March 13, 2020

During these challenging times, we encourage everyone to turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Blessed Mother in prayer, especially for those who are sick or vulnerable, and for those who care for them. As individuals and as a community, it is important that we act prudently, but without panic. Therefore, as a health precaution, the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre announces the following directives effective immediately:

1. Catholics are hereby dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the weekends of March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29. Churches will remain open and Mass schedules will remain mostly unchanged. However, the obligation is lifted for those three weekends. We will continue to monitor official health advisories and update these directives accordingly.

2. We urge everyone who is sick, elderly, or vulnerable because of a medical condition, to remain at home. People in these categories are not obliged to attend Mass. Please understand that Mass schedules and availability, as well as parish and diocesan events may change, especially if our clergy is affected by illness. Please check your parish web site for local Mass schedules, updates and changes, and please consult Diocese of Rockville Centre social media (Facebook:@RVCdiocese; Twitter: @RVCDiocese) and webpage ( for Diocesan updates and changes.

3. Catholics who attend Holy Mass are not required to receive Holy Communion more than once per year. No one is under any obligation to either receive or distribute Holy Communion. Catholics who choose to temporarily refrain from receiving Holy Communion may make an act of Spiritual Communion, uniting themselves worthily to our Lord’s true presence in the Most Holy Eucharist through prayer.

4. Holy Mass can be viewed on the Catholic Faith Network and online. Information regarding schedules and viewing online is provided below. Note that some parishes livestream their Masses online. Check your parish website for more information.

5. The directives issued by the Diocese of Rockville Centre on

March 4, 2020, regarding Masses during virus season remain in effect. They are included below for your convenience.

Directives and Guidelines for Parishes for

Health Considerations during Virus Seasons:

As a health precaution, the Diocese of Rockville Centre has instructed all Churches to enact the following measures immediately.

1. Until further notice, the Precious Blood of Christ (the Chalice) is not to be distributed to anyone other than clergy (priests / deacons) or those who for health reasons must only receive the Precious Blood.

2. Until further notice, the Sign of Peace will not be given / exchanged in any form during Holy Mass.

3. Parishioners are instructed to remain at home if they are sick. This includes deacons, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, lectors, altar servers, ushers, music ministers, etc. Those who are able to attend Mass are encouraged to wash and sanitize their hands.

4. Priests, deacons, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and altar servers should wash their hands immediately before serving. Disinfectant soap and/or hand sanitizer should be provided for them. Clergy and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are encouraged to wash / disinfect their hands after serving as well.

5. Parishioners who prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue still have that right, though they may freely choose to receive the Sacred Host in their hands during this precautionary time.

6. Clergy may wish to discontinue the practice of shaking hands in greeting parishioners after Mass.

In view of the concern for the containment of the coronavirus, I thought it advisable to keep you posted as to our policies to safeguard all who enter our church and facilities.

We have had a long- standing policy for sanitizing and cleaning all facilities.  We use a disinfectant which as it cleans kills germs.  It is a product that is recommended by the Suffolk County Health Department. 

Due to the current health crisis, we have heightened our cleaning procedures even further by such efforts as all doorknobs, handrails, light switches, toilets, sinks, dispensers are being disinfected every day.  Floors are always cleaned with disinfectant.  All classrooms and offices are and will continue to be supplied with disinfectant wipes and sprays. Gloves are also available in these locations.

As you know in Church we have eliminated the distribution of the Precious Blood.  We have requested people to not receive the host on the tongue at this time.  We have discontinued the sign of peace, have requested that people do not hold hands during the

Our Father.  If any one is feeling ill they should stay home, as there is no obligation for them to attend Mass.

We are continuing our practice of having individual packets of hand cleaner available at the sign in book for all EM’s and strongly recommend that each EM take a packet to their pew to be utilized right before they proceed into the sanctuary.  We also have dispensers outside the bathrooms in the church as well as in the auditorium.

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