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Bishop Libasci Issues Guidance to Diocese Regarding Covid-19

March 13, 2020

Bishop Libasci Issues Guidance to Diocese Regarding COVID-19

Parishioners asked to limit physical contact, stay home if unwell.

(MANCHESTER, NH) The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, announced today updated directives for pastors and parishes to help limit the potential spread of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). Those steps include:

  1. Priests and lay ministers of Holy Communion are to practice good hygiene and direct others to do the same, washing their hands before Mass begins and/or using an alcohol-based solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
  2. Priests are to assure parishioners that if they are sick, they are not obligated to attend Mass and, in fact, should not attend.
  3. Coffee socials and similar activities after Mass are to be suspended.
  4. The suspension of the Sign of Peace, during which congregants typically shake hands with those seated around them.
  5. The suspension of distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice.

Recognizing that our churches serve not only as houses of worship but also as workplaces, Bishop Libasci also directed diocesan employees to limit nonessential work travel and has extended sick leave time for those who need it.

The Catholic Schools Office also announced it had contracted with Google to provide Google Classroom to all diocesan and parochial schools. In the event any of our schools close due to illness, each school will coordinate alternative instructional delivery with parents and students.

The Diocese of Manchester is monitoring the situation closely and is following the recommendations provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in regard to COVID-19. Public health authorities have not recommended the across-the-board closure of schools and churches here in New Hampshire at this time. We will continue to update the public as new information becomes available via the diocesan website: www.catholicnh.org/coronavirus.

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The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of nearly 235,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit www.catholicnh.org/overview.