Share the peace, but not the flu

The cold and flu season is underway and with worries about an H1N1 pandemic, local churches are trying to slow the spread of the virus among their parishioners.

The cold and flu season is underway and with worries about an H1N1 pandemic, local churches are trying to slow the spread of the virus among their parishioners.

At Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Red Deer, the congregation will no longer greet each other by shaking hands during the sign of peace. Only the wafer, known as the body of Christ, will be offered to parishioners during communion, but the chalice will not be used while the H1N1 flu is a concern.

Priests will wash their hands before the service and use hand sanitizer before communion. Holy water fonts will remain empty as a temporary measure and only be filled for baptisms.

“Since last weekend, we made a few changes just to make sure we contribute to trying to maintain a healthy environment for everyone,” said Father Victor Eze, with Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Red Deer. “It is a collective responsibility of everybody to help to prevent the spread of this disease.”

Eze said parishioners have also been asked not to attend mass if they are ill, have a cough or fever.

He said it is the second time the church has moved forward with these precautions. The Catholic church did so for the first time in the spring when the flu virus first became an issue.

At St. Andrew’s United Church in Lacombe, they’ve become creative with the “pass the peace” moment when parishioners normally shake hands to greet one another.

“We’ve been talking about passing the peace without passing the germs,” said Rev. Ross Smillie of St. Andrew’s. So they’ve been encouraging greetings without handshakes.

“Some people did a high five and missed, others did the traditional Buddhist greeting by putting hands in a prayer position and doing a small bow.”

The young people in the congregation came up with a belly bump, something like what football players and other athletes do for encouragement, which involves jumping up and bouncing off each other.

He said it could become a bigger issue this fall, but at the moment they’re trying to keep it lighthearted.

During the flu season, St. Andrew’s has also changed how communion will be offered. The church will no longer be using a common cup for communion, but instead offering individual cups to the congregation.

Tom Ashton, people’s warden with St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Red Deer, said parishioners in the past would often perform intinction, or dipping the bread into the chalice of wine. They have been advised by the bishop to stop this practice because it could be a health hazard. The new minister at the church, Rev. Noel Wygiera, will clean his hands and then will dip the wafer and pass it to each parishioner. Ashton said Wygiera has also encouraged people to greet each other without shaking hands, there are signs up encouraging hand washing and hand sanitizer has been added around the church. Parishioners have been told to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms.

At Gaetz Memorial United Church in Red Deer, Rev. Brenda Kersell said they will do a thorough cleaning each week of all of the toys and children’s spaces in the church. Gaetz Memorial has also put signage in all of the washrooms reminding people to wash their hands and stay home if they are sick.

“We haven’t refrained yet from handshaking, but we do encourage those who are ushering and greeting, like (Rev.) Fran (Hare) and I to use hand sanitizers,” Kersell said. She and her counterpart will also sanitize their hands before each baptism.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

Time for a central Albertan in cabinet, says chamber of commerce

Central Alberta had no cabinet ministers in last government

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

WATCH video of Innisfail resident creating the world’s biggest caricature

Watch as Innisfail resident Dean Foster creates the world’s biggest caricature of… Continue reading

CRA’s automatic benefit registrations give retirees reason to file on time

TORONTO — This is the time of year when procrastinators begin to… Continue reading

Study: Genetic test predicts middle-aged obesity risk

NEW YORK — Can a genetic test identify newborns at risk of… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer Co-op Plaza Food store closing

Central Alberta Co-op is closing its downtown Red Deer Plaza food store… Continue reading

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Netflix adds 9.6M subscribers in 1Q as competition heats up

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber… Continue reading

Liberals find anti-Trudeau sentiment on campaign trail in Prince Edward Island

OTTAWA — When voters in Prince Edward Island go to the polls… Continue reading

Most Read