In December, the Diocese grappled with the frightening spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, while preparing to play a role as a community partner in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in early 2021.

“We are going to be a major player in this,” says Ann Marie Gallant, Director of the Diocesan Emergency Operations Collaborative (EOC). “When [the counties] call us, we say ‘yes.’ ”

A handful of parishes in the Diocese have already served as sites for County administered COVID-19 testing and seasonal flu shots. As the COVID-19 spike has intensified the number of parishes stepping forward to serve as sites has increased, especially in areas like the High Desert and Eastern Coachella Valley, where COVID-19 rates are highest.

Father Francisco Valdovinos, ST, Pastor of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mecca took to the airwaves in December offering a radio message in Spanish encouraging residents to take health and safety precautions, get tested and receive the vaccine when it arrives. He was joined in delivering the message by Sister Maria Teresa Pacheco, who ministers to communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

“We ask you to please receive the vaccine when it arrives,” Fr. Valdovinos says in the radio spot. “This will be the best way for us to protect ourselves, our families and our community.”

Added Sr. Pacheco, “When we answer this call, we give glory to God who gives us our life and health.”

Both the Diocese and the Catholic Bishops of California are mounting public campaigns to encourage Catholics to receive the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. With regard to the question of whether cell tissue from aborted fetuses was used in the creation of these vaccines, both are morally acceptable, according to statements from the Diocese and from the California Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.