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Archdiocese Of Miami Suggesting Measures To Prevent Possible Spread Of Coronavirus

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When parishioners come to Mass at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Hollywood this weekend they might notice a few changes to the service. But Father Bryan Garcia, pastor at the church, said he's reminding his flock that keeping each other healthy is an act of charity in the face of coronavirus.

Father Garcia is emptying the holy water receptacles at the front of the church in order to limit the spread of any germs.

That's just one of the suggested steps the Archdiocese of Miami is suggesting for Sunday services.

Another is an increased use of anti-bacterial soap by ministers who hand out Holy Communion and temporarily suspending the distribution of the sacramental wine during Holy Communion.

"If you're accustomed to seeing that, maybe for a couple of weeks, we won't be seeing that," Garcia said.

He said it's not about hysteria. It's about common sense.

"If you get ahead of something you can help prevent things from happening," he said.

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The Archdiocese is recommending temporarily suspending the sign of peace where parishioners kiss or shake hands, temporarily suspending the holding of hands during the Our Father prayer and encouraging sick parishioners to stay home.

"It's not something that we're so much taking away but it's also — in this Lenten season — it's a way of being kind to others," Garcia said.

He said it's an act of charity to look out for each other's health and well-being.

The Archdiocese is also suggesting priests can use their discretion if they want to shake hands with parishioners before and after mass.

"I told the parishioners if you're feeling sick but you still want to come say hello to me, feel free to nod and smile and I won't get offended if you don't extend your hand and that's OK," Garcia said.

Garcia said parishioners who are sick can receive Holy Communion at their homes.

These are only suggestions from the Archdiocese and Father Garcia said they are not unprecedented.

He said the church has taken similar measures before during the flu and other illness scares of recent years.

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