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Churches react to coronavirus

Catholic bishops release faithful from Sunday Mass obligation

 

March 16, 2020

Charity Smith/Daily Globe Worshipers take part in Mass at St. Mary of the Seven Dolars Catholic Church in Hurley Sunday.

HURLEY - Worshipers at St. Mary of the Seven Dolors Catholic Church in Hurley on Sunday refrained from shaking hands as ordered by the bishop, but instead offered each other a wave or threw up the peace sign to each other.

Many parishioners carried little bottles of sanitizer which they used intermittently at various intervals of the service.

Father Frank Kordek, OFM, read a letter from the bishop of the Superior Diocese written last week releasing Catholics from their Sunday obligation to attend Mass in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am dispensing from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass for anyone, who for whatever reason is afraid they might contract COVID-19," said Rev. James P. Powers, Bishop of the Diocese of Superior in a letter to the diocese on Thursday.

A similar letter was released by Bishop John F. Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette to Upper Peninsula Catholics on Friday.

This release from obligation was evident at St. Mary's on Sunday as there were fewer than 40 parishioners in attendance. According to Kordek, the church usually sees three times that amount with well over a hundred parishioners attending Mass on a typical Sunday morning.

Charity Smith/Daily Globe Worshipers take part in Mass at St. Mary of the Seven Dolars Catholic Church in Hurley Sunday.

Both dioceses' letters also addressed worship, suggesting people not hold hands during prayer or shake hands when offering each other peace. Communion practices have also been modified and Holy Water is no longer available in the founts.

Many churches across the country of varying faiths have shuttered their doors for worship and other events. Some churches are streaming worship online and asking people to pray and study their Bibles alone or with their family.

In Ironwood, the sign outside the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration on Sunday said, "Sunday liturgy suspended."

Doerfler offered the following advice to members of the Marquette Diocese, "Don't panic. Pray. It's time for us to put our trust in the Lord."

 
 

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