Cardinal Cupich Prepares For A First-Of-Its-Kind Easter

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- This is Holy Thursday when Christians mark The Last Supper and Jesus’ washing of the feet of his followers.
Cardinal Cupich said that although no feet-washing will happen even during masses that are livestreamed, “there are different kinds of washing of the feet, ways in which we soothe each other as we help them along the path of life to take the next step to those who do chores around the house in order to ease the burden of others.
“Also, washing each other by forgiveness, in which we’re called to reconcile with others in this time. So, a different kind of washing of the feet can take place at home,” he said.
Cardinal Cupich said COVID-19 has hit the ranks of priests in the Chicago archdiocese. 
The Archdiocese also says 82-year old Fr. John Flavin of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview is hospitalized with COVID-19. A spokeswoman says Fr. Flavin is retired and had been in a nursing home before he was hospitalized with the coronavirus.
“We had one priest that I know of and I have a report that some others who live in a particular residence were tested positive. I don’t have the exact number,” Cupich said.
He estimates there are “a handful” of priests with COVID-19.
According to Christ Our Savior Church in South Holland, 42-year-old Fr. Gosbert Rwezahura has been hospitalized for COVID-19 since March 24. The latest update on April 6 said Fr. Rwezahura is improving and that his lungs are getting stronger.
The Archbishop of Chicago said it’s very strange, in this time, celebrating mass in an empty Cathedral, but that he knows Catholics in the Chicago area are connecting with the church through live-stream and TV masses. He said it has to be that way. 
“In many ways, we’re kind of like people that we hear about in the Passover story of the Jewish tradition where we’re sequestered in our homes as death passes by our doors," Cupich said.
Easter cross
WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya
The cardinal said even though priests have not been able to celebrate mass in front of their parishioners, they’ve been contacting them individually.
”Just to check in to see how people are doing, to make sure that folks know that they’re not forgotten, that they’re prayed for, but also to listen with regards to any needs that they have that they want prayed for or any needs that they have in a materially way,” the cardinal said.
For those Catholics who are in the hospital and want to be given the sacrament of The Anointing of the Sick, what some call Last Rites, “we have designated 24 priests, that is four priests in each of the six regions that we have. We’ve trained them with the help of medical experts on what they should be doing if they’re called in to anoint someone who is dying. They know exactly what the protocol is.” 
Of course, that’s if particular hospital rules allow priests inside.
As for those, including Republican Senate candidate Mark Curran, who believe the church should have found safe ways to have in-person masses, the cardinal said, “religion is not magic where we just say prayers and think things are going to change. God gave us a brain and the gift of intelligence and we have to use it in this moment.”
The cardinal said in-person masses will not be allowed until health and civic leaders say it’s safe to do so.