After closely monitoring recent developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Bishop Richard F. Stika has issued a directive to all pastors, priests, and deacons that they institute the following precautions at Mass celebrations in the Diocese of Knoxville.
The directive includes suspending the distribution of the consecrated wine, knowing that one receives the fullness of Communion of Jesus Christ in the consecrated host. Bishop Stika has also suspended the offering of a physical sign of peace, inviting parishioners to instead bow one’s head as they offer peace to those around them.
These restrictions, similar to ones that were implemented by the diocese during the flu season, went into effect March 3 and will remain in effect until such time that Bishop Stika deems appropriate.
In addition, Bishop Stika is encouraging that one or more of the following intercessions be included at Masses:
- for those who are suffering in the current outbreak of coronavirus, that they might be healed, and for the happy repose of all who have died from this sickness in recent weeks
- for scientists, health professionals, public officials, and all those who are serving the common good in this difficult and uncertain time, that they will be filled with wisdom and understanding
- that in times of illness our merciful and loving Father will strengthen our faith and trust in His goodness and divine providence
- that our compassionate Father would touch all affected by the current coronavirus outbreak will healing and peace.
On Feb. 28, the Diocese of Knoxville issed a communication to clergy, school leaders, and staff that included recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Catholic Mutual Group that outlined health precautions against coronavirus.