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Catholic diocese in NH seeks to limit flu among parishioners

January 15. 2013 7:54PM

MANCHESTER - With church doors unable to stop the flu, Catholic church officials in New Hampshire say parishoners should stay home if sick.

Other recommendations include avoiding physical contact with fellow worshippers during Mass. Also, priests have been urged to not distribute consecrated wine during the communion ceremony.

The requests will remain in effect through the flu season, said Pat McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester. They are similar to recommendations made during the H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009.

"We pray, but we're not immune from sickness," McGee said. He said Bishop Peter Libasci has not required Diocesan priests to get a flu shot, but diocesesan priests have been encouraged to do so.

Catholics who are sick are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass, McGee stressed.

"It's common sense. You don't want to infect others, and really you should take care of yourself," he said. The sign of peace, a Mass activity that involves handshakes, kisses or embraces, can be replaced with eye contact, smiles or a nod.

Another recommendation is to not distribute consecrated wine during the communion ceremony. Consecrated bread is still available for use in the communion service.

Those who cannot eat wheat for health reasons can arrange with their pastor to receive communion wine, but that will take place privately, McGee said.

Health Religion New Hampshire