This story is part of the CBS 42 special report Coronavirus: The Facts.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — From the moment you walk into a Catholic church in the Birmingham area, you’ll notice the changes made throughout the service to keep members healthy.
Father Doug Vu of St. Barnabas Parish said their message to members is simple: be prayerful, not panicked.
Catholic churches in Birmingham were ordered by the Bishop to suspend Holy Communion from the chalice. Right now, members are still able to eat the consecrated bread, representing the body of Christ.
At St. Barnabas, hand sanitizer is available at every entrance.
“For me, as a local priest, I make sure our building is clean and that we have hand sanitizer at our main entrance. And I ask all of our ministers to clean their hands before and after mass,” Father Vu said.
Frequent cleaning has become a priority for commonly touched surfaces at church. Father Vu said he is also encouraging members that are exchanging the sign of peace to do so without physical contact.
“Wash our hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for about 20 seconds and avoid any contact,” he said. Father Vu recommends Catholics that are too ill to attend church, to pray the Prayer of Spiritual Communion at home.
Birmingham Catholic churches will continue to follow instructions from the diocese of the Birmingham Bishop.
Local churches are seeing the impact of the virus far beyond the buildings. Kimberly French is a member of North Park Baptist Church. On Monday, she found out her mission trip to Northern Italy was canceled.
“I’m very disappointed because we went last year. The people in Italy are amazing and the children we were able to impact were so phenomenal,” French said.
Her church is taking the money raised and putting it towards other missions planned for the year.
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