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Diocese of Rockford announces closure of all schools, changes in mass due to COVID-19

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Diocese of Rockford announces closure of all schools, changes in mass due to COVID-19

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Bishop David J. Malloy issued a statement today regarding changes the diocese is making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diocesan Catholic elementary and high schools will suspend classes beginning Monday, March 16th until further notice. Schools will implement e-learning.

A dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is granted to all who are suffering from any underlying medical condition. In particular, any who are not feeling well because of symptoms of flu and cold or have compromised immune symptoms. People of any age who are in any way uncomfortable in large gatherings of people are similarly dispensed. These dispensations are for the weekends of March 15, 22, and 29.

Pastors are asked to consider other steps to help reduce the number of people gathering for Mass such as temporarily adding additional Masses or publicizing the Mass schedules of nearby parishes where Mass attendance may be less crowded.

Further, for the next three weekends, parishes are directed to:

1.Suspend all physical contact at the exchange of the sign of peace.

2. Suspend holding hands at the Our Father – a gesture not prescribed in the Roman Missal.

3. Suspend the distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ via the chalice.

4. Sanitize and regularly refresh water in holy water fonts or temporarily drain the fonts completely.

All non-sacramental parish events are cancelled. All athletic events, practices, and extra-curricular activities, retreats, and religious education classes and events are also suspended. The Bishop Lane Retreat Center will also be closed until further notice.

All sacramental retreats are also cancelled immediately. Those preparing for sacraments should be allowed to advance to the sacrament, given the situation.

Bishop Malloy will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. However, arrangements will be made to do so without the celebration of Mass, with the attendance of the candidates and his or her immediately family members only. Proxies may stand in for sponsors who are non-immediate family members.

Parishes are encouraged to work with their employees to permit remote working if practical until further notice. The Diocesan Administration Center will remain open and all service to the parishes and schools will continue, but the building will be closed to visitors.