Abilene's Holy Family Church among churches suspending communion cup over flu epidemic

ABILENE, TX - Holy Family Church in Abilene is among Catholic churches in the Big Country to suspend the use of the communion cup during worship.

The church is following strict orders from their regional Bishop MIchael Pfeifer in San Angelo as part of an effort to prevent the flu from spreading.

The San Angelo Diocese has suspended churches in 29 Texas counties -- including Taylor and Brown -- have from taking the communion cup in church.

One Associate Pastor announced to the congregation, "We do not share the peace greeting with a handshake and he suggests that instead we turn to the person next to us and express a word of kindness and peace."

"When we pray the Lord's Prayer we do not hold hands as we customarily do in many situations," Father Fred Nawarkas of Holy Family Church said.

Church members also will not shake hands as they leave church. For now, only the priest and deacon can drink from the cup.

However, the church is still allowed to eat the host bread.

"I don't think they're extreme, because we certainly wouldn't want people to stay away from participating in our masses on Sunday church services because they might feel its dangerous to their health," said Father Newarkas.

His staff said the suspension is in everyone's best interest.

"We do wipe the cup down after everybody uses it," Holy Family Eucharistic Minister Brandon McAuliffe said. "I think it's just kind of going a step above."

"I'd still come up and drink from the cup, but at the same time I appreciate them talking extra steps," church member Bryant Bush said.

Father Fred said that the suspension does not have an end date yet.

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