Responding to COVID-19

 

This page provides a number of resources that may be helpful as we continue to adapt to the ongoing pandemic. CMSM staff are updating this page on a regular basis. We invite members to send additional resources that may be helpful to your brother provincials.

On March 20, 2020, a friar, Br. John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, OFM, became the first person in Washington, DC, to die from COVID-19, a reminder of the risks associated with this virus. 

Vatican


Holy Week Considerations

As provinces, monasteries, and local houses celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we encourage following the guidance put in place by the local bishop regarding worship restrictions and the civil authorities regarding public gatherings. Please also keep these in mind:

  • Public liturgies generally are not possible, even during Holy Week and Easter. This means outside individuals generally should not attend, even if there is a physical separation between them and your community members.
  • In light of the CDC and other guidance to practice “social distancing” and minimize contact that could lead to the spread of COVID-19, and given the number of high-risk individuals in many communities (age or health concerns), provincials may wish to recommend your men observe celebrations within the houses where they live rather than gather from across the province at the provincial house or other location.
  • Consider being creative about engaging with your own communities and with the faithful during this time. This may include using Zoom or other software to host a “virtual” gathering with your local communities on Good Friday or Easter; live-streaming Masses, stations of the cross, or other reflections; posting taped reflections online; offering outdoor “drive-through” confessions or outdoor “drive-in” adoration, where the faithful remain in their automobiles – if permitted under local “stay in place” directives. Also, don’t forget to provide a link for donations on your website and to mention how to give during the appropriate time in a live-streamed Mass.

Privacy and Transparency if a Member is Infected

RCRI has posted guidance regarding the sharing of medical information if a member becomes infected with COVID-19, including coordination with the CDC and health officials, and a temporary waiver of some HIPAA sanctions.


Chapters and Elections

RCRI has prepared an FAQ regarding postponing elections and chapters scheduled during this time.

UPDATED March 25: RCRI reports the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has provided additional information:

The Institute leadership is to write a letter to the Prefect, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, informing the Dicastery that the General Chapter has been postponed and the terms of office extended. The Institute leadership is also to write a letter to the Prefect informing the Dicastery of the new dates for the General Chapter once they have been established. The Dicastery will send a response to each letter it receives. The letter may be sent through the services of the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC, or through the US Postal Service. The addresses are:

His Eminence João Braz Cardinal de Aviz
Prefect
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
00120 Vatican City

Most Reverend Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

RCRI – The Resource Center for Religious Institutes – is posting a number of COVID-related resources like these on the public part of its website, under “latest news” so the material is available to non-members as well as members. We thank RCRI for this service.


Immigration

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has prepared a resource page with the latest updates on government agencies during this time.


Communicating Online: Live-streaming Masses, Stations of the Cross, etc.

Many parishes and other ministries have jumped into livestreaming and posting reflections for the faithful. The simplest version is a message using your mobile phone – either live or posted online. These practical resources will walk you step-by-step into online ministry.

While shown live, these videos also can be archived so people can watch them afterward, and they can be embedded on your province website. Just run a test first so you aren’t surprised, as occurred here:


Communications Best Practices

Your communications director or coordinator may be interested in a free 3-session webinar series, March 25-27 (then on demand), from the Public Relations Society of America. While geared toward business, presenters will cover communications best practices during COVID-19 (internal, external, and digital).

For virtual conference calls and gatherings, consider Zoom (limited free option available), GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or Skype.


Ministering with Young People

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry has posted a full page of resources and ideas for those working with minors during the COVID-19 crisis.


Health Care Resources & Ethical Guidance

  • Catholic Health Association COVID-19 website includes guidance on ethical directives for treatment of COVID-19 patients and in times of scarce resources, a webinar on palliative care during this pandemic, and other information that may be helpful for communities managing health-related concerns within your own houses or your ministries.
  • The Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 website has the latest information and guidance for the general population, faith communities, retirement centers, etc., in the United States, while the World Health Organization offers global guidance.
  • Finally, the Diocese of Dallas is offering a downloadable flyer for hand-washing “Catholic style” – in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Mental and Behavioral Health Resources

These treatment centers are offering resources and information in response to COVID-19. All remain available for consultation and support, with some adapting or changing programs in response to the evolving environment.

In addition, a directory of online AA meetings may be found here.