Temporary Liturgical Adaptations in response to Coronavirus Concerns

Date: March 3, 2020

The Diocese of San José is closely monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, both locally and beyond Santa Clara County. Our goal is to ensure the safety of parishioners, priests, men and women religious, employees, students, volunteers, and to support our public health agencies with community mitigation efforts when appropriate.

With the guidance of the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we assure you of our support as you prepare our parishes and schools to take additional measures in response to coronavirus concerns as needed.

We continue to follow the adapted liturgical practices, which were instituted at all our parishes on December 1 2019, in light of the flu season as precautionary measures, and to which we have added a new precaution. Bishop Oscar Cantú asks that, effective immediately, priests announce the following liturgical adaptations at the beginning of each Mass:

  • Priests, deacons, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are to wash their hands before Mass begins and use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
  • The faithful are not to hold hands during the recitation of the Our Father.
  • The faithful are not to make physical contact when exchanging the Sign of Peace; rather, they are to use other ways, such as bowing to one another.
  • Holy Communion is to be distributed to the faithful in the species of consecrated bread only. The cup is not to be used during this time.
  • Holy Communion is to be distributed in the hand and not on the tongue of the faithful. NEW
  • All holy water and Baptismal fonts are to be emptied of holy water. If the liturgy requires the use of holy water, it should be disposed of appropriately afterwards. NEW
  • Priests are to wash their hands before and after using the Holy Oil. NEW

Bishop Oscar Cantú reminds the faithful that if they are sick, the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is dispensed. He also has asked all priests, deacons, teachers, students, employees, and volunteers to stay home when they are sick.

In accord with directives from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the faithful should continue their regular routines while exercising the same precautions they would take during cold and flu season:

  • Get a flu shot to protect against flu or symptoms like the one for the novel coronavirus. The flu shot will not protect against COVID-19, but it is highly recommended to help keep you healthy.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use at least a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough into a tissue or your elbow (not your hand). Then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick or with a fever.
  • Keep students at home if they have a fever or report not feeling well, appear weak or ill.
  • Consult your health care provider if you or your family member have special health conditions that put you at increased risk.
  • Those at higher risk (over 50 and those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung illnesses like COPD, as well as those who are immunocompromised) are to avoid large gatherings such as sporting events, parades, concerts, etc., where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Our school and parish communities are taking precautions to keep their sites disinfected and clean. Commonly shared surfaces will be wiped down every day with disinfectants and chlorine containing cleansers to protect the health and well-being of our school communities.

We remind you that the County Public Health Department has a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese at http://sccphd.org/coronavirus. The site is updated regularly and contains helpful one-page flyers in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese with these updated guidelines.

We will continue to closely monitor the updated guidance from the County Public Health Department and the CDC to determine the need for additional safety steps to protect the health and well-being of our communities. We join with others in prayer and solidarity for the healing of all who are affected by this outbreak and those who are caring for them, and for the repose of the souls of those who have died from this illness.

Please stay updated with the latest recommendations and news from our Public Health officials. https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/ncov-widget.aspx

Temporary Liturgical Adaptations during the Flu/Cold Season

Date: November 25, 2019

Public Health Officer of Santa Clara County has again requested that we make a number of temporary
adaptations to our celebrations of the Eucharist, so as to foster the health of our worshipping communities and
also of the wider community. Given the anticipated increase of the flu throughout the Diocese.

1. For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, Holy Communion will not be shared under the form of
Consecrated Wine. Concelebrating priests and assisting deacons are to receive the Precious Blood
by means of intinction. Provision should be made for those parishioners who rely upon receiving
Holy Communion under the Sacred Species of consecrated wine because of Celiac Disease or other
conditions that do not tolerate the ingestion of a consecrated host.
2. For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, Holy Communion will be distributed only into the
hands of communicants; during this time, Holy Communion will not be distributed on the tongue.
Should a communicant be unwilling to follow this directive, that person is to receive Holy
Communion after everyone else has done so.
3. For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, people should refrain from holding hands during the
recitation or singing of the Lord’s Prayer.
4. For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, the Sign of Peace should be adapted so as to allow for a
greeting that does not require shaking hands or touching.
5. For the duration of the flu/cold/virus season, all who administer Holy Communion are to wash their
hands with an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution, such as Purell, before and after they administer
the Sacrament. This precaution also extends to those who minister to the homebound.
6. These adaptations are to remain in effect throughout the Diocese until conditions allow me to rescind

When you explain these adapted procedures to your people, please remind then that the obligation to participate
in Sunday Mass does not hold for those who are seriously ill, and that it would be a mark of Christian charity for
anyone who has fever, cough or other such symptoms to remain at home. Please refer to the article, Liturgy,
Cold, and the Flu: Common Sense Practices,” which has previously been circulated throughout the Diocese.
Thank you for your immediate attention to these matters and for undertaking the catechesis that will be necessary
to introduce these adaptations to your parishes and other communities.