Catholic Churches Making Difficult Changes Due To Coronavirus Concerns

baptismal font
Photo credit The baptismal font at St. Michael in Sterling Heights. (Photo: Mike Campbell/WWJ)

STERLING HEIGHTS (WWJ) - It'll be tough, one leader says, but they need to be smart. 

Catholic churches in metro Detroit are making some difficult choices and changes due to concerns over the new Coronavirus, COVID-19.  

In emails sent to area priests and Catholic schools, Archdiocese of Detroit leadership asks that parishioners not attend mass if they're sick or have flu-like symptoms, and saidcertain elements of the mass may also be modified.

Deacon Franz Hoffer, who met with WWJ Newsradio 950's Mike Campbell Tuesday at St. Michael in Sterling Heights, said they'll be taking several precautions recommended by the Archdiocese.

This includes the following:

  • Emptying the baptismal and holy water fonts
  • Asking parishioners not to shake hands
  • Temporarily stop offering Communion wine in a shared chalice

"When we're doing the peace greeting, we're looking a that," Hoffer said. "It's certainly going to be tough to accept because our peace greeting here is pretty, pretty intense. We have a lot of greeters, you know. We love to welcome people and greet people and then share the peace of Christ, but we also need to be smart about it."

Hoffer said he expects his church and others to distribute flyers emplaning all this. 

"We'll probably put an announcement together for the parishioners this weekend so that they understand what we're doing, and make sure we keep everybody safe as we go though this thing with the flu season, and of course also the Coronavirus," he said. 

Hoffer said parish nurses are also getting together to make sure they're doing all they can.

As of Tuesday, there had been no cases of the virus confirmed by health officials in Michigan. As the worldwide death toll topped 3,000 as of Monday afternoon, and the number of cases topped 89,000, officials said six people in the U.S. with the virus had died