Coronavirus (COVID-19) & St. Margaret Update
(17 March 2020)
More aggressive measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus continue to be announced by government leaders. These include limiting the size of public gatherings and closing venues such as restaurants and theaters to significantly expand mitigation efforts to slow the progress of further community spread.
The Church is not immune to the immediate actions that must be taken now in order to protect our communities. Today, Bishop Duca issued a set of provisions that will be in effect in the Diocese of Baton Rouge beginning Wednesday, 18 March 2020.
How do these provisions affect St. Margaret?
All public Masses are suspended effective today (Tuesday, 17 March 2020). This includes all Masses at St. Margaret and St. Thomas. The Bishop is allowing priests to celebrate Mass privately. Rest assured that Fr. Jamin and Fr. Brad will be offering Mass for you and the people of our community daily. In the coming days, we hope to have a filmed version of these Masses available to you on our website.
At the Bishop’s request, Eucharistic Adoration will be discontinued on Wednesdays and Fridays for the reminder of Lent, and indefinitely on Wednesdays. The same is true of our communal Lenten practice of praying collectively the Stations of the Cross.
St. Margaret Church will be open daily beginning Thursday, 19 March 2020 at hours to be announced tomorrow for the purposes of prayer (Fr. Jamin would like to consult with his staff regarding these provisions first). Social distancing by parishioners should be practiced anytime they visit the Parish Church.
As was previous announced, Parish gatherings are cancelled through April 13. Based upon the Bishop’s directive, these unnecessary gathering will be cancelled throughout the entirety of the month of April., through the 30th:
- Hungarian Language Classes
- Bible Study
- Eucharistic Adoration
- Public Stations of the Cross
- RCIA/Open Doors
- Youth Night
- Catholic Daughters Meetings & Off Campus Rosaries
- Young Adult Ministry
- Family Faith Formation
- Theology in a Bottle
- One Book, One Church
- Respect Life Committee
- Vocation Committee
- Adult Confirmation
- Youth Appreciation Night
- Artist Guild
- Margaret’s Men
- Yummy for Your Tummy
- Seminarian Crawfish Boil
There will not be a communal Lenten penance service at St. Margaret on 01 April 2020 as was previously announced. All other deanery communal penance services are cancelled. Jamin and Fr. Brad will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation at a parishioner’s request and due to the needs of an individual penitent. There will be no regularly scheduled or advertised times of reconciliation until the viral threat has subsided.
All Holy Water fonts at St. Margaret and St. Thomas have been drained until further notice.
All baptisms at St. Margaret are postponed indefinitely except danger of death situations. Individual circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.
Funerals at St. Margaret will be celebrated only with immediate family (parents, spouses, siblings, children, and grandchildren), clergy and funeral staff present. Funeral Masses and services in the Church are not allowed. Funerals will be celebrated graveside or at the funeral home according to pastoral need. There will be no wake services in the Church or Parish Hall, and the services of the St. Margaret Bereavement committee have been postponed. This is in effect until 30 April 2020, at minimum.
Weddings at St. Margaret will to be celebrated only with the bride, groom, celebrant, two witness and immediate family (parents, siblings, and children) present. Mass will not be celebrated. This is in effect until 30 April 2020, at minimum.
Delivery of communion to those at home, in nursing homes or in other healthcare facilities on a regular basis by the St. Margaret Homebound Ministry is discontinued indefinitely; this does not apply in danger of death or when a person is in need of viaticum. Fr. Jamin and Fr. Brad may encounter situations where they are denied access to patients for the Anointing of the Sick. In such situations, we will attempt to call the individual and pray with them by phone. Please be aware that because of regulations by nursing facilities and hospitals, and to protect the health of our clergy, St. Margaret’s priests may not in all circumstances be able to anoint a patient, even in danger of death.
The St. Margaret Parish office will retain its current office hours (Tuesday through Friday, 9:00AM until 11:00AM and 1:00PM until 4:00PM). The lay faithful are encouraged to conduct as much Parish business as possible either by phone or email. This provision remains subject to change by Fr. Jamin. Also, access to other parochial buildings is strictly prohibited (The Parish Hall and St. Thomas Chapel; the Hall of Saints should only be accessed during Office Hours).
I know much of this is unwelcome news! None of us wants to be deprived of any sacrament, even temporarily, especially the Eucharist! However, removed from our normal circumstances, we can surely develop a deeper appreciation of our brothers and sisters who do not receive the sacraments as frequently as do we – like the elderly in nursing homes, prisoners who are incarcerated, and our brothers and sisters in remote areas of the world.
Yet again, this provides another example of a small death that contributes to our own experience of the Paschal Mystery!