St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar Church : Updated COVID-19 Preparedness and Response
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
May the peace and love of our Merciful God be with you always!
The Coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19 disease are challenging our society and our daily lives in ways we have never experienced before. “Social distancing” is being used to delay the spread of the virus and hopefully avoid healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. To this end, schools in Maryland have been closed for the next two weeks, many people are being urged to work from home if possible, and Governor Larry Hogan has prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people.
• Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath has dispensed all members of the faithful of our diocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Holy Qurbana.
• Bishop Angadiath has also given parishes permission to cancel Holy Qurbana if the local authorities asked to restrict gathering.
• As our Holy Qurbana on Sunday 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. are not attended by 250 people in the past, we will continue to have Holy Qurbana.
• I recommend that we spread around while attending Holy Qurbana – we will have the live video to the basement, so faithful don’t have to sit closer and tighter.
• I suggest people who live closer to the church come to the 9:00 a.m. Holy Qurbana
• Receive Holy Communion on the palm of your hand
• To ensure your safety, the pews, chairs, and common areas were wiped clean with disinfectants
• If you are sick with any illnesses, please stay home
• While in the Church premises, keep watch of your children and elderly
• Please help keep our Church clean by following best practices, including handwashing, proper trash disposal, etc.
Time and time again throughout the scriptures, we hear these words, “Be not afraid.” Words which give us comfort and hope. It is difficult to live those words when we are in the midst of a baffling, rapidly changing pandemic. Yet, I call upon us, as people of faith, to ground ourselves in that which we know. God loves us and we are bound to each other in community.
It is because of our love for one another and our love of neighbor that we will follow instructions and directions for how we can, together, prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. While the cancellation of large group gatherings, travel, and events that we have looked forward to is disappointing, we are learning how critical it is to do whatever we can to avoid spreading this disease even further.
We are a people of faith who are called to be a people of courage and hope especially in time of anxiety and confusion. May we be a non-anxious presence and trust that God is with us as we move through these days. God has given us hearts and brains. May we use them with common sense and wisdom.
I also encourage you to refrain from watching hours of the news or following every post on Facebook as it tends to increase fear and anxiety. Turn to the trusted sources of accurate and scientific information such as the Center for Disease Control and our local Frederick County Health Department.
Go outside and walk. Get some fresh air. Enjoy the surroundings. Give thanks for the amazing gifts of God’s creation.
Spend time in prayer and build stronger family bonds. Be attentive to everyone in the family. The widespread misinformation is especially hard on our children and youth who see and feel the anxiety from the adults around them. They count on us, as adults, to help them navigate their feelings. We need to empower them and give them the tools for what they can do to be safe. Please do not make people panic, do not behave inhumanly; everyone – especially the sick, deserves our care, love, prayers, and support. Use trustworthy sources like www.cdc.gov
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. We can talk with one another, even the way we used to — by picking up the phone. We can communicate via social media and other technologies.
Our nation and our world are being strained in so many different ways by this pandemic. We are called to pray for all those affected by this virus, especially looking out for the elderly and those who health is compromised. As a community of faith, even if you are not able to attend Holy Qurbana, we can still be united as the Body of Christ in prayer.
Please see below Bishop’s Circular 67-2020 COVID-19 Precautionary measures with regard to the celebration of the Holy Qurbana and other church activities
Let us pray for one another.
Blessings and Prayers,