March 11 Pastoral Directive from Bishop Provenzano
March 11, 2020
Pastoral Directive from Bishop Provenzano for
Preventing the Spread of the Coronavirus
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The following comes to you as a Pastoral Directive, having consulted with medical professionals and
heeding guidelines from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
Based on these consultations, I am issuing the Pastoral Directives below, effective
immediately. They update both the suggested guidelines that were distributed on February 27
and the directives of March 8.
Communicate with your congregation about precautions and protocols. Rather than simply sending
my directive, use your voice, your relationship with members to affirm that our Church is taking this
seriously and will not panic.
Be mindful of members who rely on an hourly wage and may experience a disruption in income. Is
there some way the congregation can help with emergency expenses?
Encourage phone checks on those who may be vulnerable to COVID-19. Elders among us seem to be
at the greatest risk. Consider encouraging members of your congregation to check in on their
neighbors as well. And remind everyone that the church is here to be of help and support to the
people we serve in every neighborhood and community.
Until further notification, the regular schedule of liturgies is to be followed, and the celebration of
the Holy Eucharist is to continue in all our churches. It is essential that we provide comfort and
strength for our people as this crisis continues. I am asking that the clergy be deliberate about
keeping our church doors open and welcoming and facilitating the opportunity for prayer and
That said, I am asking that every precaution recommended by the DOH and the CDC be followed in
our churches. Our first obligation as Christian people in a crisis like this is to care for our neighbors
and to be careful that we do not inadvertently spread illness and add to the burden of care for all
> CLICK HERE for a link to the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Information
> CLICK HERE for a link to the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Information
The Holy Eucharist should be celebrated in all of our churches following the usual liturgy schedule of
the local parish community.
Holy Communion will be distributed in one form - the consecrated bread at the altar rail and in the
communion line in all our churches. Placing the sacrament into the hands of the people. No one
should attempt to place the sacrament into people's mouths - ever.
With careful instruction, a single metal chalice (not glass, not ceramic) of consecrated wine (fortified
wine 18% alcohol or greater) can be stationed apart from the rail or line (not to be confused with
how we normally distribute Holy Communion) so that individuals may exercise the option to receive
the sacrament in this form. (Care must be taken to wipe the chalice after each administration.
Following the communion of the people, all the remaining consecrated wine should be reverently
poured into the piscina (special sink with a single pipe to the ground, not connected to the sewer
system) or directly into the ground.
I am asking all the clergy to address this change verbally, not solely in written form, and take this
moment to remind the people of the ancient teaching that communion in one form - the bread - is
sufficient (Doctrine of Concomitance.)
Under no circumstances should the wine be administered by intinction (dipping the bread in the
cup), whether by the person administering communion or by the person receiving communion.
As few people as possible should administer the bread, preferably the priest. Every effort should be
made to avoid touching the hands of those receiving.
Please explain to the people that this is a temporary directive intended to help mitigate the spread
FONTS AND OTHER RECEPTACLES OF HOLY WATER:
Health officials have recommended that parishes empty all fonts and other receptacles of Holy
Water as respiratory droplets carrying COVID-19 may also be transmitted through hands being
dipped in the water.
THE PEACE AND OTHER GREETINGS:
The peace should be administered without direct physical contact (a bow, nod, wave, etc.)
Refrain from direct physical contact when greeting each other before or following the service.
For the time being postpone or cancel any and all large gatherings.
Assume that all regularly scheduled diocesan meetings and gatherings are postponed unless you are
directly advised to the contrary.
Please continue to encourage parishioners who feel ill to stay at home.
All clergy and eucharistic ministers will thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water prior to
each service. Hand sanitizer should be applied during the Offertory as part of the preparation for
Please encourage all your parishioners to wash their hands frequently, including before and after
worship services. During the distribution of the consecrated bread, the priest should avoid touching
his or her face. If by accident, the clergy inadvertently touch their face, they should cease the
administration and immediately re-apply hand sanitizer or hand washing before resuming the
administration of the sacrament.
Although we pray that the crisis will not cause us to have to cease liturgical celebrations and cause
individual parishes to close for an extended period of time, I am aware that the financial burden to
parishes will be significant if offerings are not taken for several weeks. Please rest assured that the
Diocesan Center Finance Department and the Trustees of the Diocese are formulating a plan to
advance funds to cover normal operating expenses, salaries, and benefits to Diocesan Church
employees in the event of an extended time of church closings. We will endeavor to avoid this
possibility but must be prepared for what might happen given the experience of other countries.
The staff of the diocese is now prepared to work remotely in the event that the diocesan center in
Garden City must close. We are prepared to support the ministry of the diocese as we move
through this crisis.
PRAYERS FOR EVERY HOME:
In the event that we are forced to close churches completely (not an unreasonable expectation
given the rapid increase in the number of cases), the staff of the diocese is preparing to make
available a short liturgy to be prayed at home for each individual family on Sunday
mornings. Prayers for Every Home will be a one-page document that will be available through email
and on the diocesan website.
In addition, online/interactive resources for liturgy will also be made available in the event that
households cannot gather for normal Sunday liturgies.
Please continue to consult the diocesan website for any urgent updates.
Thank you all for your continued faithfulness, patience, and prayers.