Toronto archdiocese cautious about swine flu

By 
  • September 22, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Toronto's archbishop is cautioning parishes to remain vigilant about swine flu.

In a Sept. 16 letter to parishes, Archbishop Thomas Collins said the archdiocese is continuing to monitor the spread of the H1N1 virus which causes swine flu.

“Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of all flu viruses,” according to the letter.

Collins said the archdiocese has been in constant communication with health officials to determine whether it is necessary to alter any liturgical practices.

“To date, we have been informed that this is not required. It is important, however, that we remain diligent with preventative measures,” according to the letter.

It also recommended hygiene practices specific to the celebration of the liturgy. For instance, the letter suggests that parishes can provide hand cleaning stations near church entrances. And it reminds priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hand hygiene.

Collins also suggested that parishioners who are ill to stay at home and those who feel ill or have been sick in recent days not to receive communion on the tongue or from the cup.

On the sign of the peace, the letter said “it may, however, be preferable, especially in our present circumstances, to use another gesture (aside from shaking hands), for example, by bowing and perhaps by saying 'Peace be with you.'”

Fr. Marc-Andre Campbell, pastor of Mississauga, Ont.'s St. Joseph's Church, says excerpts of the archbishop's letter will be included in the upcoming parish bulletin to further inform the parish's 8,000 registered families.

As of Sept. 15, there have been 76 Canadians who have died after contracting the H1N1 virus which causes swine flu.

For a copy of the letter online, visit see www.archtoronto.org/flu/index.htm .

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