Keeping the faith while fighting the flu - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Keeping the faith while fighting the flu

by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Churches across eastern Iowa are working to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

The Catholic Church is based on ceremony and long time traditions. Now the church may have to change those traditions to make sure the congregation stays healthy.

"I have heard lots of expressions of concern. Some people think we should already stop the greeting of peace and things like that, but I think there is concern about that kind of stuff all the time in some people's minds," said Father Dennis Juhl of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Some changes have already taken place, like the use of hand sanitizer before communion, but more may need to be done.

If an outbreak of the flu happens Father Juhl says they will stop giving wine during communion, drain the holy water from the back of the church, and even ask people to stop shaking hands during the sign of peace.

"What I've told the people already is if they are uncomfortable with that and the potential of contracting the flu they should not do it. They can simply smile at a person or bow to the person. If it does get serious those things will be left out," said Father Juhl.

Father Juhl also says it is not a sin to miss church if you are sick. He would prefer to stop the spread of the virus before it gets worse.

"Everything gets more serious at a time like that and I don't think we're going to cancel masses unless there is something catastrophic," said Father Juhl.

The Archdiocese of Davenport is trying to track the spread of flu throughout their parishes, asking churches to e-mail or call, if they see a significant increase in people missing from mass, school, and religious education programs.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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