Altoona-Johnstown Diocese announces changes due to coronavirus, advises fish fries be cancelled

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese is making changes due to the coronavirus outbreak, the diocese announced Thursday.

Parishioners are not obligated to attend mass, though mass will still happen, spokesperson, Tony Degol announced.

The diocese is also discouraging parishioners from participating in communion, though they will not turn anyone down that wants to participate, they just ask that those partaking wash their hands before and after.

Director of Communications, Tony DeGol, is asking parishioners to not risk their health by going to church.

“Those who are 60 and older should seriously consider whether or not they want to come to mass,” DeGol, said. “Anyone with any underlying health conditions should seriously considering whether or not they want to come mass.”

He says the diocese has already been under flu guidelines.

“Reception of Holy communion on the tongue is strongly discouraged, it will not be denied, but we encourage the faithful to please receive communion in their hand,” DeGol, said.

Parishioners are to not shake hands during the “sign of peace”.

Another guideline impacts access to holy water.

“Holy water fonts in churches will be emptied immediately and will not be refilled,” DeGol, said.

The Diocese is also recommending that fish fries do not happen, along with any other non-essential events, though the diocese did not say fish fries have been cancelled at this time.

Our lady of Victory Catholic School in State College and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg will be closed next week, following the lead of the State College Area School District.

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