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St. Vincent priest tests positive for COVID-19

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- One of the largest parishes in Fort Wayne has lost all four of its priests and a summer seminarian for at least the next two weeks because of the coronavirus.

Saturday night, one of the priests at Saint Vincent de Paul church went to the emergency room with mild symptoms of the coronavirus, and tested positive for COVID-19.

Doctors told him the diagnosis meant he has to quarantine in his room in the rectory, and the three other priests and a summer seminarian who also live there must self-isolate, as well.

Priests from other parishes will fill in until the priests have two negative coronavirus tests.

The revised schedule for mass can be found on the Saint Vincent de Paul website, and confession there is suspended for at least this week.

As Saint Vincent's pastor, Father Daniel Scheidt says he wants to make sure people get the immediate sacramental care that they need.

"For example, funerals, weddings, things that are already scheduled, to make sure that there's a priest to help with those," he says.

The Saint Vincent's priests were celebrating Mass as recently as this weekend, although Father Dan says they were following safety protocols for communion.

"For the distribution of communion, the priests would have taken all of the precautions wearing masks and disinfecting our hands before distributiion. So the liklihood of transmission there would be minimal," he says.

He says hundreds of people do attend Mass in person, which he says is a lower number than other times of the year because people are at the lake on the weekends.

Father Dan also says one of the blessings of the pandemic is that the church increased its online presence to reach parishioners, like daily live streamed services.

He says he and the seminarian will continue those from the church as long as the sanctuary is otherwise empty, which he says is strictly a precaution.

"None of the other priests is necessarily a carrier of the virus at this point. We're just prudentially taking precautions in case we are," Father Dan says.

He says the follow up testing should be complete in the next two weeks or so.

In the meantime, the revised schedule for mass can be found on the Saint Vincent de Paul website, and confession there is suspended for at least this week.

If you begin to develop symptoms like a deep cough, fever, and sore throat, call your doctor.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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