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Following an announcement from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, Winnetka and Northfield churches are suspending all liturgical services effective immediately.
Closed churches include: Winnetka Congregational Church; Christ Church; Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Church; Sacred Heart Church; and St. Philip the Apostle Church in Northfield.
The decision is based on current guidelines from local public health departments regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), which recommend the cancellation of public gatherings involving 250 or more people, according to a press release found on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website.
Cupich also announced the closing of schools operated by the archdiocese, the Pastoral Center and related agency offices until further notice.
“This was not a decision I made lightly,” Cupich said in the press release. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Catholics. And our schools and agencies provide essential services to many thousands across Cook and Lake Counties. But, in consultation with leaders from across the archdiocese, for the sake of the safety of our students, parishioners, and all the women and men who serve the people of the archdiocese, it is clear that we must take the better part of caution in order to slow the spread of this pandemic.”
The archdiocese added that weddings and funerals scheduled for Saturday, Mach 14, were to proceed by observing guidelines issued by Gov, J.B. Pritzker, limiting participation to no more than 250.
According to the release, while public mass will be suspended beginning March 14, archdiocesan churches should remain open for private prayer during a time frame best determined by each pastor. To achieve this, the archdiocese has asked pastors to coordinate limited staff presence in parishes to answer calls and perform routine maintenance with a heightened focus on disinfecting all areas of common use.
Cupich said that some parishes may proceed with televised and online Masses.
According to the release, the decision to temporarily close schools, beginning Monday, March 16, applies to all Catholic schools that are operated by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
During this closure period, Catholic school students will be asked to complete academic work through electronic learning (“e-learning”) or alternative learning.
“In this time of legitimate concern for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones and those at the margins of society, we must hold fast to the knowledge that the impulses that come from God bring courage, consolation, generosity and solidarity,” Cupich said in the press release.
For more information, please visit: archchicago.org/coronavirus.