Sioux City’s Catholic Diocese is also taking steps to help stop the spread of the corona virus.
Bishop R. Walker Nickless issued mandates to the priests and deacons of the diocese Friday afternoon that includes dispensing ll Catholics over age 65 and anyone, regardless of age, with underlying medical issues, from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Those with a sincere belief that they are at risk or ill do not have to attend Mass.
The distribution of wine in the chalice at Communion is suspended immediately.
The bishop also “strongly recommended that Communion in the form of the Body of Christ be received in the hand as opposed to on the tongue.
Priests and greeters should refrain from shaking hands or touching parishioners and should not hand out bulletins or other materials.
Bishop Nickless has also cancelled several diocesan events “in the abundance of caution,” including the March 28th Women’s Conference in Storm Lake, the April 2nd Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City and the April 4th Men’s Conference in Le Mars.
The memo also explained pastors at all diocesan parishes are mandated to remove holy water from “hand fonts,” and must provide hand sanitizer at church entrances. Other mandates include:
- Greeters should refrain from shaking hands or touching parishioners and should not hand out bulletins or other materials.
- Remove missalettes, hymnals, papers and other loose materials from the pews. If missalettes and hymnals are distributed at the door, those should also be removed.
- Remind the lay faithful, if possible, to sit with some distance between one another.
- Take the collection in such a way that eliminates handing the basket from person to person.
- Suspend the procession of the offertory gifts and keep them covered on the credence table.
- Do not hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, as there is no liturgical directive that requires this.
- Eliminate the Sign of Peace and the subsequent shaking of hands, as liturgical norms allow this to be omitted at Mass.
- Re-enforce the practice of hand sanitizing for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
- Be particularly mindful of cleansing the vessels used during Mass after each use.
- Refrain from greeting the priest and others after Mass with handshakes or physical contact.
- Bishop Nickless asked that pastors consider the following two recommendations:
- Pastors are advised to evaluate all parish activities and determine whether or not they should be cancelled or postponed.
- Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion to the sick at nursing homes and hospitals should follow the guidelines established by those institutions.
Regarding the diocesan Women’s Conference and Men’s Conference, Fred Shellabarger of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship explained all preregistration fees will be refunded. The office will consider organizing similar events in the future when it is safe to do so.
This bishop also asked the clergy and staff to join him in prayer for all those throughout the world affected by the coronavirus to join him in prayer, as well as the medical personnel assisting them.