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COVID-19 (coronavirus) Information and Resources

March 19, 2020

**As of now, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in our parish or in our community.**

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM BISHOP RICHARD E. PATES

My dear Sisters and Brothers in the Joliet Diocese,

Because of the rapid spread of the virus and in accord with the actions taken by the neighboring dioceses, all Church services, beginning with weekend Masses, daily Mass, Stations of the Cross, etc., in the parishes and institutions in the Diocese of Joliet will discontinue immediately. This will remain in effect until it is prudently advisable to resume them. The diocese will make the decision as to when to resume them. The Sacrament of Penance may be administered when approached, in accordance with health guidelines.

After consultation, the Chrism Mass of April 6th will be celebrated at 7:00pm in the St. Francis Xavier Chapel of the Blanchette Catholic Center. Arrangements are being made to involve limited numbers of priests as well as to live stream the ceremony. Unfortunately, the afternoon of reflection with Archbishop Sartain as well as the clergy meal are canceled. Hopefully, we can arrange a special clergy gathering once the “all clear” signal is sounded by health authorities.

The Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate of Sam Conforti is being transferred to the St. Francis Xavier Chapel of the Blanchette Catholic Center to be celebrated on Saturday, April 4th at 11:00am. The individuals attending the ceremony personally will be contacted by the Vocation Office. Plans are in place to live-stream the event.

The ceremonies of Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday Celebration on April 4th through Easter are canceled in the parishes and institutions of the Diocese of Joliet. This radical step is most painful but is undertaken in the interests of the health of our parishioners and the broader community. I know it was ever so difficult for the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to take this same step at the Vatican. If this should be changed, I will notify you immediately.

The diocesan, parish and institutional offices are to be closed except for priests and deacons to attend the pastoral needs of our parishioners. Exception can be made for essential personnel at the diocesan and parish level on a very limited basis.

We are experiencing events unknown to us before. If we take sacrificial short-term measures, long-term beneficial outcome will come that much sooner.

My prayers, support and solidarity are with all in the Diocese. I am confident that if we are calm and trusting in the assured Providence of a very loving God, we will survive this severe crisis in good mind and spirit.

With my support and heartfelt prayer, I remain, sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Apostolic Administrator
Diocese of Joliet


March 17, 2020

In order to further reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19, the coronavirus around our community, starting tomorrow morning, March 18th, our parish doors will be locked. If you need to stop by the parish office for any reason whatsoever, simply call the office at 815-436-2651 between the hours of 8:15am and Noon, and someone will meet you at the door. You can call the same number if you have any questions of any kind. Thank you and God bless you and keep you and yours safe.


In order to protect the most vulnerable within our community, the Adoration Chapel will be closed until further notice starting at 12:00 Noon today.

Instead, why not pray using our online chapel? We have a special page just for Eucharistic Adoration here: https://smip.org/online-chapel/virtual-adoration/

Thank you and God bless.


March 16, 2020

Until further notice, we will no longer be holding daily Mass in the church. Instead, you can watch every morning as we live stream our Masses at 9:00 AM on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/StMaryImmaculate/videos or watch after the fact on that same page or on our website at https://www.smip.org/mass-videos

During this time, our Adoration Chapel will remain open for the time being.

Come celebrate Mass online with us every morning at 9:00 AM!


March 13, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the COVID-19 outbreak, even though Masses and other activities may be cancelled, the parish still needs to operate by keeping the facility running, paying the staff, and responding to the community’s needs for assistance. We hope this will be a short-term shutdown, but we are still in need of your support. If you do not currently participate in online giving, would you please consider doing so now? Please visit https://www.osvonlinegiving.com/1206 to set up online giving today, and thank you for your generous support of Saint Mary’s.

Yours in Christ and His Blessed Mother,

Father Pat Mulcahy


March 13, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Per Bishop Pates, all Masses in the diocese are canceled this weekend.  All parishioners are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass.  We will have a Mass streamed live on Facebook at 9:00am so that you can stay connected to your faith and your parish.  It will also be posted on our website when it is over.

The church will be open from 3pm to 5pm on Saturday, March 14 for confessions and so that you can come to pray if you wish.  If you are sick, or caring for someone who is sick, or if you have a compromised immune system or are susceptible to disease, PLEASE STAY HOME – DO NOT COME TO CHURCH.

Daily Masses are still available, but you will only be able to receive communion on the hand.  The Adoration chapel will be open regular hours after the 7:30am Mass on Monday, March 16.

Religious education classes are canceled this coming week.  We will update you for classes going forward.

We are awaiting a statement from the diocesan Catholic Schools Office regarding the status of the school, and we will let you know as soon as we hear.

As always, we will update you as the situation dictates.  Please stay safe and be well.

Yours in Christ and His Blessed Mother,
Father Pat Mulcahy, Pastor


March 12, 2020

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
John 13:34

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is a sadness for all of us.  In addition to people who get sick, there are also people out of work, economic impacts of many kinds, canceled activities and attractions, and even, in some areas, churches that are closed.  I heard it said that this pandemic will touch everyone at some time, and that has proven to be alarmingly so.  As a pastor, I am deeply saddened in these days especially that this tragedy is separating us from one another and from the Church in so many ways.

All of that said, we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the families in our parish and school to the extent that we are able.  We have introduced common-sense measures requested by our diocese including the suspension of contact during the sign of peace, Lord’s Prayer, and greetings before and after Mass and the suspension of distributing the Precious Blood to the faithful.  We are also requiring all Clergy, Ministers of Communion, and altar servers to thoroughly wash their hands before and after Mass, and to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after distributing Holy Communion.  In addition, we will be removing the holy water fonts for the time being.

Communion on the tongue and on the hand are both still permitted.  We ask that those receiving on the tongue stand still and, after saying “Amen,” stick out their tongue to receive the sacrament so that the minister would not have to touch their mouth.  We also ask that those receiving on the hand stand still and present their hands flat, so that the minister would not have to touch their hand.  Those who are more concerned about this issue may wish to forgo receiving Communion for the time being and receive Spiritual Communion instead.  Please note that ministers will not be touching anyone, including children, when they provide the “blessing” for Spiritual Communion.

I want to make it absolutely clear that those who are sick should not come to Mass, nor should those who are caring for a sick person, or those whose immune systems are compromised, or whose health requires them to be particularly careful about contracting an infection.  Those cases would constitute the “serious reason” required by CCC 2181 to be excused from the obligation to attend Mass.  In addition, it is an act of charity toward your brothers and sisters not to spread infection if you are ill.

Beginning this coming week, we are cancelling or suspending activities other than those necessary for celebration of, or preparation for, the Liturgy and the sacraments, religious education of our youth, and our school and its activities.  I am depending on our faith formation and school staff to make determinations about which of their activities are essential and which can be postponed or eliminated.  You can always check our website, social media accounts, FlockNote, and our parish app for up-to-date cancellations in this very fluid situation.  The general principle is that we want healthy people to come to Mass, and then go home well.

Per a mandate from the Centers for Disease Control, all Masses, rosaries, Communion Services and Communion to the sick have been suspended at all of the nursing homes we serve.  The well-being of the sick demands that we are careful about this.  In addition, when called to anoint the sick, families will be asked if anyone at the location has a fever or a cough, or whether they have travelled internationally recently.  This is so that our priests know to use protective measures to avoid spreading a possible infection.  It is still our intention, and indeed our privilege, to bring the sacraments to those who are in need, especially the dying.

The reason we are being proactive in this situation is that we know that people who do not show symptoms of illness can still spread the infection.  Therefore, it is extremely important for us to limit activities that might facilitate that spread.  I am very aware of the disappointment many will feel at not being able to attend these activities, but the demands of charity outweigh all of that.  Our love for one another must always lead us to will the good of each other, even at the expense of our own disappointment.

You likely have heard of areas in which churches have been closed and public Masses suspended.  This is a sadness that has touched me deeply as a pastor.  I am fervently praying that this would not come to pass in our area, and that the spread of this disease would be eliminated very soon.  I am asking you to pray with me, and I ask that you would seriously consider offering your Friday fast and prayer for those affected by this pandemic.

The following is a beautiful prayer, written by Pope Francis, for those affected by COVID-19:

O Mary, you shine continuously along our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the Cross were near to the pain of Jesus, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of your people, know what we need, and we trust that you will provide for those needs so that, as at Cana of Galilee, joy and celebration may return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus tells us, He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and took up our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Yours in Christ and His Blessed Mother,

Father Pat Mulcahy, Pastor

The safety and well-being of our St. Mary’s community is our highest priority.

Saint Mary Immaculate Parish is closely monitoring local situations and making preparation in case the COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community.  For now, there have been no indications of a coronavirus outbreak, but that could change as time goes on, and if it does, we will update this information.  We will continue to communicate any pertinent information to our community as it becomes available.

**As of now, there have been no cases of COVID-19 infection in our parish or in our community.**

We are encouraging that everyone practice good health habits in the Religious Education and School programs.

  • Washing hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before and after consuming food.  Wash for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water, and making sure to get your fingertips.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air.  Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your elbow.
  • As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • If children are feeling sick, please keep them home from RE and school.  Allow them some time to feel better so that they do not risk infecting others.

We will continue to communicate with you in the days and weeks to come.  As always the safety of our students, staff, and families remains our top priority.

Church services including Mass, weddings and funerals will continue as scheduled.  According to the directives given by the Diocese of Joliet, the following changes have been made and are currently in place:

  • The Precious Blood will not be distributed to the faithful during Mass.  Communion will continue to be made available by partaking of the Host, in which is contained the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord.  
  • All are asked to refrain from physical contact in greeting each other before or after Mass, and during the Sign of Peace.
  • All ministers are to wash their hands thoroughly before and after Mass, and all Ministers of Communion (priests, deacons, seminarians, and extraordinary ministers) are to use hand sanitizer immediately before and after distributing Holy Communion.
  • Holy water fonts have been removed for the time being.

Some pastoral considerations that we would offer:

  • If you are sick, the obligation to attend Mass does not apply.  In fact, it is an act of charity not to attend Mass and possibly infect others.  If you are sick, please stay home.
  • All should wash their hands thoroughly after attending Mass, or any large group activity here at church or anywhere.
  • In order to wash your hands long enough, you might pray a quick Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be while you wash, offering those prayers for the healing of the sick.
  • It is valid to receive Holy Communion on the tongue and on the hand.  Both ways could transmit disease, and the diocese has not issued any directive restricting distribution of either method.  If you have a compromised immunity, you may wish to forgo Holy Communion for the time being.

Cancellations

As cancellations occur, we will make you aware of them here and through our usual communication methods (bulletin, announcements, email, Flocknote).  At this time, we would want you to be aware of the following:

  • All Masses will continue as scheduled.  At this time, we anticipate all services during Holy Week to occur as scheduled.
  • School and religious education classes will continue as scheduled.
  • Youth mission trips this summer are on as of this time, but Catholic Heart Workcamps is monitoring the situation and will update us if a cancellation becomes necessary.
ABOUT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

What is novel coronavirus?
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China (source: CDC). Read more about 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

How is it transmitted?
Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread (source: CDC). Read more about how COVID-19 spreads.

What are the symptoms?
Commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. While the exact incubation period for this coronavirus has not yet been determined, it is believed that most infected people will develop symptoms two to 14 days after they were exposed (source: Maryland Department of Health).

What should you do if you have symptoms?
If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care right away from a healthcare provider. Call ahead to let the healthcare provider know your symptoms and recent travel history. Please avoid contact with others until you have been evaluated by a healthcare provider.

What measures can you take to minimize risk of exposure? There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses. Read WHO advice for the public.

Don’t forget to protect yourself from another common virus, the flu (influenza). Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk. To be clear, the influenza virus is a different virus from COVID-19, and getting your flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19. But both viruses are spread in the same fashion, and there is currently a vaccine available to help prevent the spread of the flu. At this time in the United States, your risk of getting the flu is much greater than your risk of contracting COVID-19.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

PREVENTION

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash, immediately
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well, getting adequate sleep, and exercising all help your body stay resilient
  • Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel website for any travel advisories and recommended steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside the United States

DIVERSITY AND CIVILITY

Avoid making assumptions about individuals who you believe may or may not have come into contact with someone who is carrying the virus. In some cases, public reactions to the virus have been sensationalized, and there have been individuals elsewhere who reported encountering discrimination and harassment due to biased assumptions and overreactions.

SOME FACTS AND TIPS FROM THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)

The World Health Organization, a division of the United Nations that specializes in international public health, offers these answers to frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus.

Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?
No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the COVID-19. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus?
UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin, as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?
Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.

However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from china?
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (covid-19)?
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.

Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the COVID-19, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.