As parishioners filed into St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Dallas, changes over coronavirus are easy to see.
There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the church, and more smiles and head nods than handshakes.
“I sanitize my hands about 100 times and so I do that. I really don’t get sick very much," said Father Joshua Whitfield, the Pastoral Administrator serving St. Rita. "Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of elbows and fists. Whatever the person is comfortable doing."
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“I’m more concerned about Mimi and protecting her because of her age,” said church member Robin Johnston.
Johnston’s mother-in-law, Josie Johnston - "Mimi" to her family, plans to keep going to Mass.
“I know it’s serious, but I don’t think worrying is going to help it. I think we need to pray and do the things we do to try to be safe,” said long-time St. Rita church member Josie Johnston.
Recommendations from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas include stopping use of the chalice, suspending the sign of peace (where parishioners shake hands) and asking people to receive communion in their hand instead of mouth.
Father Whitfield hopes these changes keep his congregation safe.
“So far, we have not heard of a case. But if we do, that’ll certainly change the way we behave. But so far, it’s common sense,” said Father Whitfield.
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth has already taken similar measures because of the flu.