WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Catholic churches in the area are taking health precautions and fighting back against the flu as churches across the country have temporarily put a stop to some mass traditions, like giving out wine during communion and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer.
Father Patrick Keane, pastor at St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington, said hardly anyone at the church has the flu, so he doesn't think they need to take any more precautions than they already have, at least not yet.
Keane said the Diocese in Raleigh lets them know if changes need to be made, and takes extreme precautions.
"This is something very, very serious and we take health issues very seriously, so it's just people using common sense. Don't invite a hug or extend your hand to someone. You kind of do, like I do you wait for them," he said.
Parishioners agreed that, right now, changes to mass don't need to be made.
"If there were more illnesses, if we had been hit really hard in the Wilmington area, then that would be the case then we would need to do that, but since we have not been, I don't think we need to take any more precautions then we already do," Amy Chesek said.
Right now, hand sanitizer is all over the church, and people handing out communion wash their hands before mass and before communion, according to Keane.
Keane said don't drink out of the chalice or shake hands at the sign of peace if you're sick, and it may not even be worth a trip to mass at all if you don't feel well. Communion can be brought to your home if you can't make it to church.
"If you know that you're sick or you have something that is transmittable, and people are very good about doing that. I've noticed that in the past couple of months, people will refuse to extend their hand to me, not out of they're afraid of getting sick. They know that they're sick, so Catholics use very good common sense because we know that we're a tactile religion because that's what Jesus was he physically touched people to cure them," he said.
Keane said the flu is something the church takes very seriously and they will make changes if the flu gets worse here.