Diocese information on coronavirus; local pastor addresses Sacrament question for special needs child

Diocese information on coronavirus; local pastor addresses Sacrament question for special needs child

With federal health officials issuing a warning this week about the potential spread of the coronavirus in the United States, and news coming in from around the globe about extreme measures underway to stem the spread, the Diocese of Trenton is issuing the following instructions:

The Diocese has always advised the faithful that sickness is a valid reason not to attend Mass or other Church gatherings where large groups assemble.  At Mass, no member of the faithful is obliged: (1) to shake hands at the sign of peace; (2) to receive the Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice; (3) to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue unless that is his/her preference. 

With the concerns about the coronavirus, the faithful are encouraged to take all the same precautions they would follow regarding the flu.  Use normal good judgment.  If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms, stay home.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is broadcast on several television channels and the sick can make a “spiritual communion” until they return to good health.

For more information about the coronavirus threat, click here.

Due to the questions and concerns that have been communicated to the Diocese about whether a special needs child in St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, will receive First Holy Communion, we are sharing a statement from the pastor, Father John P. Bambrick, which was posted Feb. 28 to the parish website: 

A matter relating to the preparedness of a special needs child in St. Aloysius Parish to receive First Holy Communion has generated a great deal of confusion and concern, which I would like to address.

While we had tried to adapt our preparation process to accommodate the child’s special needs, there was an unfortunate breakdown in communication that led to a misunderstanding.  A delay in receiving the Sacrament was discussed until readiness could be assessed; there was never to be denial of Communion to this child.

With the guidance and support of Bishop David O’Connell, we were able to discern a way for the child to receive First Holy Communion without any delay.  We have made the family aware of this development and hope to be able to meet with them to discuss it. Their child continues to be welcome in our program, and will be able to receive First Holy Communion this year.

I regret that this matter evolved as it did and, for our part, acknowledge that it could have been handled differently. It is extremely unfortunate that, as a result of this controversy, there are families with special needs children who may now doubt the Church’s commitment to welcome all children into their religious education programs. Nothing could be further from the truth; special needs children and adults are welcomed and ministered to in parishes across this Diocese, and throughout the Church, including this Parish.

A related report by The Monitor can be found here.

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