Responding to COVID-19
Dear Beloved Community,
As we are all aware, the new coronavirus, COVID-19 is making advances throughout global populations at an ever-increasing rate. While the vast majority of cases present mild-to-moderate symptoms with a full recovery, the novelty of this virus and its potential for fatalities, especially in aging populations, is now well documented. We must therefore approach this pandemic rationally but rigorously in order to decrease opportunities for the virus to spread.
To that end, our public health officials are now asking vulnerable populations including people over the age of 60 to practice “social distancing,” defined as follows:
Social Distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, ride share), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others. Presence in congregate settings or use of local public transportation should only occur with approval of local or state health authorities.
In addition, diocesan directives have now made mandatory the following in order to diminish the chances of cross contamination:
Congregants are to receive only bread during the celebration of the Eucharist;
There shall be no physical passing of the peace.
Moreover, taking into account the demographics of our congregation, under the advice of the Centers for Disease Control I further recommend that if you are over 60 or a member of a vulnerable population (frail health, pulmonary disease, etc.) you refrain from attending Sunday liturgy as part of your practice of “social distancing.” For those who do choose to attend this Sunday’s liturgy, be advised that there will be no “coffee hour” following the service.
Should it become prudent to do so, we will have the capacity to gather virtually through online forums as a way of staying connected in prayer over the weeks that COVID-19 continues to spread. In the meantime, I will remain proactive in monitoring public and diocesan heath recommendations for social gatherings, and update you via email and postings on our website. Please check back frequently.
As we address the challenges of this pandemic let us do so with faith and confidence that Christ in whom “we live and move and have our being” abides and remains faithful to us.
Love and Blessings,
Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, Vicar
St. Columba’s, Inverness