Coronavirus (COVID-19) & St. Margaret Update:  What You Need to Know
Dear Parishioners:
In order to promote safety and health in public worship and assist in alleviating undue anxiety among the faithful (especially the elderly), it seems prudent to give an update about the Coronavirus and how it interfaces with our community.
Foremost, at this time, it is important to know that there are NO mandatory community-wide quarantines, school closures, or cancellations of mass gatherings that would affect most ministry at St. Margaret.
The Center for Disease Control reminds us that the Coronavirus and Flu are spread through personal, physical contact with someone who is sick (either through inhaling the virus, or through hand-to-mouth transmission with a contaminated surface). The best prevention is good hygiene and self-isolation of people who are sick, to avoid close contact with others, cleaning hands frequently, and covering their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
At St. Margaret, we will follow a tiered system based upon the level of health crises extant at a given time, conscious of how this might affect our community using the following protocol:
CURRENT STATUS – Level I (Heightened Awareness and Liturgical Precautions)
Life and ministry at St. Margaret continues now as is usual except for some reminders that were also reinforced by our Bishop. They include:
1. Encouraging the faithful who are sick to stay at home. It is not sinful for you to miss Sunday Mass if you are contagious or ill!
2. Distribution of Communion under the species of bread alone. We receive the totality of Christ when we receive the sacred host. The distribution of communion from the chalice could be a high risk for contamination, and thus it has been discontinued.
3. The invitation to receive communion on the hand. This measure is to protect ministers and recipients; reception on the tongue could inadvertently contaminate the hands of those distributing communion.
4. Eliminating the exchange of the physical sign of peace and omitting the spontaneous gesture of hand-holding during the Our Father in an effort to minimize physical contact.
In addition to these guidelines from our Diocese, we have also removed water from Holy Water fonts at the entrance to our Churches and effective March 12, for an interim period, our communion ministers will not bring communion to our homebound parishioners (except in cases of true emergency).
Level II (A seriously heightened situation including restrictions imposed by local government, by Louisiana Health Officials, or by our Diocesan Bishop)
If the situation of health further heightens and we are advised by Church and Civil Leaders that more needs to be done to help with containment, St. Margaret will discontinue all unnecessary contact between individuals or groups (e.g. greeting parishioners after Mass, non-essential ministry gatherings, food and other social gatherings, etc.). Should this level be activated, we will also strongly suggest that people with compromised immune systems stay home even on Sundays. We’re not here yet!
Level III (Endemic/Critical Health Situations)
Should the disease progress any further, we will follow all CDC regulations for public gatherings and directives from our Bishop which might result in temporary closings. Again, we’re not here yet!
Friends, when we gather to celebrate the Sacraments, it is important to think about what each of us can do to preserve the Body of Christ and keep all of us safe. Information is at our fingertips, but there may be information sources that are not accurate and lead to increased fear. Our Website and Facebook posts will help keep you informed of any developments in our parish and keep you informed with critical information.
We are unified in Christ through prayer and a common spirit of love and trust in Him! The Sunday celebration of Eucharist is at the center of our life as a Church. In difficult times, when we gather, these gatherings are a source of comfort and hope, a time to pray to God for those who are suffering and who cannot be with us.
Let’s strive to be good Catholics and good neighbors by taking self-responsibility for our health and for others through measures that will protect us all.
Be in touch with me if you have any questions! I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
~Fr. Jamin