A STATEMENT FROM BISHOP JOSEPH STRICKLAND OF THE DIOCESE OF TYLER, TEXAS
On Sunday, March 29, 2020, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I offer this statement concerning the “Statement on Scarce Healthcare Resources” issued by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops” on March 27, 2020. I offer it out of prayer and with a sincere heart. I appreciate the effort of my brother Bishops in Texas to apply sound bioethical principles, as well as their concern that health care professionals are not held to an impossible standard in these challenging times.
March 17, 2020
My Dear Faithful of the Diocese of Tyler,
I pray that you and all who are dear to you are greatly blessed during this Lenten season as we walk with Our Lord in His Passion in unprecedented ways.
I find it to be providential that we find ourselves facing challenges that we never would have imagined only a few weeks ago while, at the same time, journeying through our diocesan Year of the Eucharist and seeking to be a teaching diocese that is more fully steeped in the beautiful truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we approach Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, I ask all of us to spiritually unite our concerns and fears about the coronavirus to Our Lord’s journey to his cross. I pray that we can embrace the sacrifices and challenges from a perspective of supernatural faith and deep commitment to Jesus Christ.
JOSEPH EDWARD STRICKLAND
BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND THE APOSTOLIC SEE
BISHOP OF TYLER
Suspending the Public Celebration of Mass and Enacting Other Measures
Considering that it is my responsibility to show concern and act with humanity and the charity of Christ toward all those entrusted to my care as Bishop of Tyler (c. 383, §§1, 3), and recognizing my duty to direct, promote, and guard the liturgical life of the diocese (c. 835, §1); and
March 13, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we continue to monitor the situation and follow best practices regarding the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and recognizing that this is a dynamic and evolving situation, I am announcing the following measures which are intended to limit the possibility of local transmission of the disease and keep our parishioners and the wider East Texas community healthy. These measures are effective immediately and are to be communicated to the faithful by the pastors of the diocese. The continuation or modification of these measures will be announced on April 1.
In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the territory of the Diocese of Tyler, Bishop Joseph Strickland has promulgated the following temporary regulations. These are effective March 10, 2020, and until further notice.
- The faithful should stay home if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms. If a person is ill, they are not bound by the obligation to attend Mass, including on Sunday. Out of charity to others, sick individuals should not attend liturgical celebrations or other parish events.
- Distribution from the common chalice during Communion is temporarily suspended.
- The exchange of a sign of peace is to be retained in all Masses (Order of the Mass, No. 128), temporarily, however, it is to be exchanged without physical contact.
- The holding of hands during Mass is not encouraged.
- The manner of receiving the host (in the hand or on the tongue) is the choice of each individual communicant. Both methods may risk the spread of disease, so it is important for ministers of Communion to exercise good hygiene. Nevertheless, if applicable, the faithful may consider receiving Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue.
- Ordinary and extraordinary ministers of Communion should practice good hygiene, washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before and after distributing Communion.
As a reminder, following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/), the Diocese of Tyler recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.