We are suspending the handshake portion of the “Sign of Peace” and I am asking everyone to merely nod. For the time being, as we exit the church it would be helpful to avoid shaking hands as well.

This weekend is the Second Sunday in Lent and I will be away on vacation through this Friday. I will be back in the parish on Saturday morning. In the meantime, this weekend we will have Father Don Delay (Retired) celebrating the 4:00pm Vigil and 8:30am Mass. Father Richard Currant (Retired) will be here for the 10:00am and 11:30am Masses and Father Ken Cannon (Pastor, Saint Mary of the Nativity, Scituate) will be here for the 7:00pm Mass. Please welcome them.

The Archdiocese is launching the 2020 Catholic Appeal soon and has sent solicitations through the mail; I received mine a few weeks back and have sent along my contribution. This is an important fundraiser for the local churches and the parish is fortunate to receive a rebate check each year which helps pay for our heating bills. I appreciate your generosity and we will share more information as it is passed along to the parish.

In the weekly briefing from the Archdiocese, I was given a link regarding the CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) along with tips to avoid getting sick. Here they are:

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

* Stay home when you are sick!

* Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

* Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray/wipe

* Follow CDC recommendations for using a facemask. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID; Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

* The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings at home or in a health care facility.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom; before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Here are the steps we are taking at the parish on this Covid-19 threat. We are suspending the handshake portion of the “Sign of Peace” and I am asking everyone to merely nod. For the time being, as we exit the church it would be helpful to avoid shaking hands as well. We will extend the suspension of Communion under both species until any concern has passed.With regard to receiving the consecrated Host on your tongue, I would ask folks to reconsider this practice. Placing the Sacred Host on your tongue brings the minister’s hand in contact with the saliva on your tongue and this could be infectious for both parties.

I am not trying to be alarmist but in a few of the Asian countries Mass has even been suspended. While I do not think that will happen here in this Archdiocese, I would add that we have the ability to LIVESTREAM the weekend Masses and should this happen, you would be able to participate spiritually in the Mass via your computer or tv. As to present-day precautions, when I return I will begin disinfecting the bathroom between Masses as well as disinfecting the top of the pews where we normally rest our hands. In the sacristy and along the baseboards we will use Lysol spray. The water in the holy water fonts at each entrance will be emptied each week, disinfected and replaced with new, blessed water. The door handles will also be disinfected. I will be asking some of our volunteers to help in this work. Not to worry, we will get through this!