Diocese of Austin continuing church services, issues precautionary measures against coronavirus

The Diocese of Austin has issued additional precautionary measures to parishes as the first couple of coronavirus cases begin to show in Austin. 

The Diocese of Austin has decided to keep the Mass and Reconciliation schedule unchanged at this time and to keep operating at normal hours, including religious education and sacramental preparation. 

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"During times such as these, it is of utmost value to provide the sacraments and the assuring presence of God to all people," the Diocese said in a press release. 

This decision comes the same day that UT Austin and Austin ISD decided to cancel classes after two presumptive positive cases were reported in Austin-Travis County. 

Although the Diocese did not altogether cancel services, it has asked that the parishes and followers to take preventative measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 

The Diocese is asking parishes and parishioners to follow these changes: 

  • Parishioners who are concerned about attending mass due to their own health condition, or that of others, are excused from the Sunday obligation. 
  • Parishioners with a high risk of contracting a virus due to illness, age, chronic health conditions or a compromised immune system should remain at home and join the parish in prayer through spiritual communion.
  • Parishes are asked to develop methods for making mass available via social media, either live-streamed or recorded. 
  • If Parishioners are unable to attend mass and are in need of Holy Communion, consult they should consult their parish. If the parish is unable to bring you Communion, make every effort to make a spiritual communion.

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The Diocese has also asked pastors to use prudential judgment when postponing or canceling parish events where large numbers are gathered. 

"I continue to monitor the situation in consultation with diocesan leadership, our parishes, and public health experts. I ask you to join me in prayer for those who are sick, those who care for them and those who are in distress during this time. Let us entrust ourselves to God who will never leave us to face our challenges alone. As an act of charity, let us work for the common good by observing these precautionary measures in our parishes, schools and throughout central Texas," wrote Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez.