Options for First Communion, visiting sick, confirmation, offices addressed

Noting that “the life of the Church must go on,” Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, has sent a letter to priests addressing options for First Communion, confirmation and visiting the sick now that public Masses have resumed.

The June 9 communication also discussed considerations for opening parish offices and holding meetings or gatherings in parish facilities.

“It may be quite some time before we are able fully to return to our previous way of doing things,” Msgr. Halfacre said, adding “a ‘one size fits all’ approach will clearly not work.”

Parishes with a small number of First Communicants might be able to celebrate Mass “more or less according to your usual custom,” he said. “Pastors could also consider inviting First Communicants — one or several families at a time — to a regularly scheduled weekday or Lord’s Day Mass.”

In all cases “appropriate distancing” and other “limitations of the present moment” must be taken into account. Allowances should be made for those who are reluctant to participate, Msgr. Halfacre said.

With regard to confirmation, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has granted to all priests working in the Diocese of Peoria the faculty to administer the sacrament until the Solemnity of Christ the King, which is Nov. 22.

“Inasmuch as the COVID-19 contagion is spread principally through respiratory droplets and not through touch, the anointing of the forehead with Sacred Chrism is not considered a significant risk of the spread of infection,” Msgr. Halfacre said.

When more than one individual is anointed, the thumb should be sanitized between each confirmandi, however.

Visits to those who are sick and homebound in their homes may resume, with the proper precautions.

In addition, Msgr. Halfacre said meetings or gatherings with 10 or fewer people may take place in a parish facility. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted after entering Phase Four of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan.

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