Houston parish closes again after priests test positive for coronavirus

Houston parish closes again after priests test positive for coronavirus

Catholics attend a Mass at the Holy Ghost Church in Houston, Texas on May 11, 2020. SCREENSHOT/HOLY GHOST CHURCH YOUTUBE CHANNEL

HOUSTON, Texas— Priests and brothers of the Redemptorist community who live and work at a Houston parish have tested positive for coronavirus, leading the parish to close after having reopened earlier this month.

Five out of seven members of the Redemptorist community at Holy Ghost parish tested positive for COVID-19 this weekend, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston. Two of them were priests.

“All Masses at Holy Ghost Church are canceled until further notice,” said the parish. “We ask you to please keep everyone in your prayers impacted by this illness.”

“While the individuals themselves are asymptomatic, they, and the other members of the community, are in quarantine in the residence isolated from the others. All members of the household have been tested and are awaiting results.”

The Masses were canceled the day after May 13, when another member of the community, Fr. Donnell Kirchner died at his parish home after possibly being exposed to the virus.

The community said one of the members who tested positive for the coronavirus since has regularly celebrated Mass since the parish reopened on May 2. They encouraged Mass attendees to monitor their health.

“If anyone has attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost Church since the reopening, we strongly encourage you to monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure.”

The church has been in contact with the Houston health department and will be providing more updated information.

Parishes of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston were permitted to resume public Masses May 2. Requirements for reopening included a 25 percent capacity threshold in each church; wearing masks; social distancing; and church personnel properly sanitizing commonly used surfaces between each service.

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the pandemic has fostered numerous trials including illnesses, financial hardships, and isolation. He said that while the closure of the churches has helped stem the spread of the virus, there is now a need for spiritual nourishment among the community.

“I have heard the continued pleas of so many of the faithful and priests for access to the spiritual strength and nourishment of the sacraments after enduring so many weeks of stay-at-home orders. Therefore, I believe the time has arrived to look forward to how this local church can cautiously resume some of its essential activities,” he said April 29.