The Book of Matthew advises Christians, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Roman Catholics in Southeast Texas are being told to follow that Scripture after Archbishop Daniel Cardinal DiNardo suspended all Masses until the week of Easter.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston had resisted following other parts of Texas that suspended public worship services last weekend. Given the continuing threat of the coronavirus, however, DiNardo announced Tuesday the suspension of all weekday and Sunday Masses.
Churches will remain open on their normal schedule for private prayer by individuals, at the discretion of the pastors, DiNardo’s announcement states. Catholics should still observe the Sabbath on Sundays, he said.
“Sunday is still the Lord’s Day,” DiNardo wrote. “Families should gather to pray, read Scripture, recite the Rosary and reflect together on their faith.”
Churches should inform their parishioners about opportunities to view Mass on TV or online, DiNardo said.
Thomas Jurecka of Lake Jackson, a parishioner at St. Michael’s who attends church most Sundays, has mixed emotions about the Archdiocese’s announcement.
“I understand we’ve got to do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus, but I think with all the activities we’ve had going — shopping to various stores looking for food items, toilet paper — I think we were exposed a lot more at that time,” Jurecka said.
In spite of that, he does understand the importance, he said.
“I’m sad that our — we don’t have strong enough faith in God to protect us, but then if you look at the scientific part of it, maybe this is how God is protecting us,” he said.
Jeanne Schroll of Lake Jackson, who attends St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in Freeport, takes a more optimistic view of the Cardinal’s decision.
“The church is giving people the grace we wouldn’t necessarily give ourselves, because if Mass is being offered then we don’t just feel compelled to go but drawn to go because that’s really so much of a place of comfort for us,” Schroll said. “But in thinking of the risk that it puts others at — those who are most vulnerable — it’s really more important for us to create a safety net around them, and if canceling Mass is the best option for that, then it’s what’s necessary.”
Schroll believes the church is rising up to protect the most vulnerable in our community, and that’s beautiful, she said.
With all of Blue Water Highway’s scheduled performances in March and April canceled or postponed because of the pandemic, the band is not going to let that get the best of them, they said in a news release Tuesday.
“We’re now going to do what we, as a band, always do,” they wrote. “Make lemonade out of lemons.”
Blue Water Highway will offer a live-streamed concert for 200 people at 7 p.m. Thursday via StageIt, with those logging in asked to make a suggested donation of $20, they wrote. A portion of proceeds will help friends in the music industry who can’t make up their income online, they said.
The concert will incorporate familiar, favorite songs as well as new, unreleased music and some covers, as the band attempts to “brighten quarantine blues” and help people feel more together even while physically apart.
“There’s nothing we love more than playing music for you guys,” they said. “So that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Judge Matt Sebesta has closed all county libraries to in-person visits, but residents are encouraged to access library resources under the eBranch tab on its website. Digital library services include e-books, audiobooks, music, movies, TV shows and digital newspapers and magazines.
ANGLETON ISD ONLINE Q&A
Angleton ISD Superintendent Phil Edwards will have a town meeting at 4:30 p.m. today through the school district’s Facebook page to address concerns people have about the coronavirus outbreak and school closures.
“We’ve been getting questions so we’ll answer those kind of at the start,” Edwards said.
District officials hope people will log in and submit questions, and Edwards said they’ll answer to the best of their ability. It will go on for about 30 minute in English, followed by a session in Spanish starting at 5 p.m.
“It’s just a way of trying to communicate with the public about what’s going on,” he said. “To the school part and how we’re reacting with the coronavirus, and how things will be moving forward.”
Local AT&T, Verizon and Sprint stores are open, though not operating in the way they usually do, representatives said.
“We are operating on our normal schedule, but with more precautions,” said Jenny Ripka, a manager for AT&T’s Angleton location.
Employees are making sure to deep-clean everything after everybody, and not touch customers’ phones before they’re cleaned, she said.
They are also recommending customers disinfect their devices, which they can do with Clorox wipes, taking off the phone case and wiping the phone itself, using Germ-X or other hand sanitizers, or putting a little bit of bleach on a rag, Ripka said.
“You’re not drenching it,” she said. “You put a little bit — when you get a rag a little bit wet to get stuff off, but it doesn’t get the surface super wet.”
Verizon Wireless’s Lake Jackson location remains open on a modified schedule of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the carrier’s website. The Angleton store cis open during its regular hours.
Store employees are taking precautions to sanitize the building and to limit the number of people in the store to less than 10, a store manager said.
Sprint’s stores are working on modified hours at the Angleton and Lake Jackson locations. The new temporary hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.