Coronavirus News: Diocese of Rockville Centre begins planning church reopening

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Nassau County (WABC) -- The Catholic Church on Long Island is crafting a plan to celebrate masses with congregations.

Church officials with the Diocese of Rockville Centre are focusing on when and how to re-establish public liturgies in a way that does not irresponsibly place parishioners in danger.


In a letter to parishioners, the Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre said, "As of this writing, nearly 75,000 have contracted the virus and over 3,500 souls have returned to God, just within the territory of our Diocese."

Catholic officials say they are consulting medical experts and civil authorities on a plan, but no date has been set yet to reopen churches to the public.

When mass does return, "Limitations may involve facial coverings or masks, limits on seating capacity to maintain social distancing, changes to the Mass schedule to allow for cleaning, modified procedures for the distribution of Holy Communion, etc."

In the meantime, the diocese says hospital chaplains have heroically ministered to the sick and parish food pantries continue to support those most in need. The priests continue "distance ministry" while Catholic school teachers, administrators and Faith Formation volunteers are keeping children engaged online. Catholic Charities is also still serving the community.

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