On Oct. 7, 2009, the Diocese of Green Bay distributed to all 158 parishes some additional guidance regarding the Sign of Peace and the Communion Cup during the flu season. At the request of Bishop David Ricken, here are some additional materials to consider:
- If a parishioner is ill, he or she should refrain from attending daily or Sunday Mass for the sake of the common good of the community until flu-like symptoms have passed. As an alternative, a person should set aside time at home for quiet, private devotions and/or observe Mass via radio or television. Mass is broadcast at 5:30 a.m. Sundays on WBAY-TV (ABC) or EWTN (cable).
- All parishioners should observe particularly scrupulous hygiene in the regular washing of hands not only in connection with going to church but as a regular routine during the day.
- Before the commencement of Mass, the congregation should be instructed that the sign of peace does not have to be conducted with a hand shake. During this flu season, people may show the sign of peace in a manner that is most comfortable to them, which may be a nod and the words, "The peace of Christ be with you."
- Ordinary and extraordinary ministers of communion should always use an antiseptic hand sanitizer before distributing communion. Care should be given to refrain from touching one's mouth or nose after using the sanitizer.
- The reception of communion in either the form of the consecrated host or the precious blood is the full reception of the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. The reception of communion in the form of the blood of Christ from the sacred cup is optional to the communicant. If a communicant does not receive the blood of Christ, he or she should bow to the sacred cup and return to one’s seat. Again, each person should use his or her judgment regarding the particular health-risk situation and the common good as to in determining whether to receive communion under one or both species.
- All parishioners should be encouraged through bulletin announcements to get plenty of rest and sleep, eat a nutritious diet, and regularly exercise to minimize the risks of contracting the flu.
- The Diocesan Department of Education will continue to work closely with the 62 Catholic schools throughout the Diocese to observe practices consistent with the school environment and advisories from the local departments of health.
Previous announcement -- May 5, 2009
On May 5, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for K-12 schools and childcare facilities. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is supporting these guidelines. Because the severity of the outbreak is lessening, the CDC now recommends:
- Schools that were closed based on previous guidance related to this outbreak may reopen.
- As a primary means to reduce the spread of influenza, schools should
- Focus on early identification of ill students and staff
- Staying home when ill
- Good cough and hand hygiene etiquette
To read the full list of recommendations, please visit
Related to Liturgical Celebrations:
On April 27, 2009, the Diocese of Green Bay e-mailed to all parishes a copy of the guidelines to be used during cold and flu outbreaks (issued by the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of the Liturgy in 2005). The guidelines remain the same EXCEPT for the third bullet point. They are:
- Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion especially should be reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. All who distribute Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion. They should instruct people who feel ill to not receive from the cup.
- Persons who have been directed by their medical advisors that they are particularly susceptible to infection may choose to refrain from any practices by which they might become sick, including shaking hands, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, drinking the Precious Blood from the chalice, etc.
- In light of recommendations from the county public health department or from the State of Wisconsin, and in light of the current conditions in the local community, Bishop David Ricken grants pastors and priest moderators permission to restrict the following liturgical practices only for the time period of the current public health concerns: shaking hands at the sign of peace, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, and drinking the Precious Blood from the chalice.
The Diocese continues to monitor the situation and will issue any necessary liturgical adaptations if the need arises. These will be communicated to parishes and posted on this Web site.
If you have questions about the State of Wisconsin’s guidelines or about the flu itself, please visit
Previous announcement -- April 27, 2009
On Monday, April 27, the Diocese of Green Bay sent an advisory about the H1N1 (swine) flu situation to all 160 parishes in the Diocese's 16-county area. The advisory suggested that people who are ill may be invited to refrain from shaking hands at the sign of peace and from drinking from the chalice. In 2005, the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of the Liturgy issued guidelines to be used during outbreaks of colds and flu. These include:
- Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion especially should be reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. All who distribute Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion. They should instruct people who feel ill to not receive from the cup.”
- Persons who have been directed by their medical advisors that they are particularly susceptible to infection may choose to refrain from any practices by which they might become sick, including shaking hands, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, drinking the Precious Blood from the chalice, etc.”
- The Diocesan Bishop should always be consulted regarding any changes or restriction of options in the celebration of Roman Catholic Liturgy.
- To date, there are no additional restrictions or changes in the usual celebration of the Holy Eucharist due to the swine flu outbreak in this country. However, the Diocese of Green Bay is monitoring the situation and will issue any necessary liturgical adaptations as the need arises. These will be communicated to parishes, and posted on this Web site.
Lastly, you may find it helpful to monitor the