Fort Wayne-area Catholic, LCMS congregations can suspend use of common Communion cup during flu outbreak

Area Catholic and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations can make their own decisions about whether to discontinue use of a common Communion cup during the flu outbreak. (Courtesy of FreeImages.com)

Mindful of the flu outbreak, two of the largest religious denominations in the Fort Wayne area are allowing their congregations to decide individually whether or not to offer members a common cup for Communion.

Both the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Indiana District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) normally offer a common Communion cup at worship services. The LCMS also offers individual cups for Communion.

The Catholic Diocese includes parishes in northeast and north-central Indiana, to as far west as Warsaw, Plymouth and South Bend.

The Indiana District of the LCMS includes all of Indiana and 37 counties in Kentucky.

Each LCMS congregation makes its own decision about whether to offer a common Communion cup or to use individual cups, a district office staff member said.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend recently sent information to all of its priests telling them they can do the following to reduce the spread of flu or illness, said Brian MacMichael of the diocese’s Office of Worship:

• Choose not to offer a common Communion cup at Mass.

• Omit the sign of peace after the “Our Father” prayer at Mass. Normally, people attending Mass are invited to greet and possibly shake hands with people around them during the sign of peace.

• Remind people that anyone who is seriously ill, such as suffering from fever or other flu symptoms, doesn’t have to attend Mass. Healthy Catholics are supposed to attend Mass weekly on Saturday night or Sunday.

MacMichael said he didn’t have details, but several parishes have told him they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the flu.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

The high rates of flu cases and the severity of this year’s flu strain also led the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health in early January to recommend area hospitals and nursing home facilities implement temporary visitation restrictions to reduce the chance of their patients or residents catching the flu from visitors.

Those precautions include:

• Anyone entering the facility for treatment who has cold or flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough or muscle aches, should wear a mask while in the building, including in waiting rooms.

• Children younger than 18 and visitors with flu-like symptoms shouldn’t be allowed to visit a patient.

• For each patient, visitors should be limited to two essential adults who are at least 18 years old. The essential adults can include a spouse or domestic partner, family members, or clergy or spiritual counselors.

• Anyone who is not allergic to the flu vaccine should get a flu vaccination.

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