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American Catholicism and the Coronavirus Pandemic: An Archive

By Stephanie Shreffler

The last few months brought upheaval in the way most of us live our lives as schools, businesses and churches closed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All across the United States, Catholic dioceses stopped offering public Masses and other prayer services in order to help “flatten the curve” of virus transmission. These extraordinary actions are almost without precedent in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

In my role as collections librarian and archivist for the U.S. Catholic Special Collection, I have begun archiving webpages that help record the response of the Catholic Church in the United States to the coronavirus pandemic. Webpages are often ephemeral and disappear quickly, and their information is lost forever. To help preserve the historical record of the changes in religious and faith life over the last few months, it is crucial that these websites be archived. 

This new collection, “The COVID-19 Pandemic and the U.S. Church,” includes liturgical guidelines, diocesan announcements of the cancellation of public Masses, and reflections on the pandemic by American Catholics. As the country slowly begins to reopen, we are also collecting diocesan announcements of new safety guidelines for attending Mass.

This collection is still growing as the pandemic continues. If you know of a webpage that you believe should be included in this collection, please email me with your suggestion. 

— Stephanie Shreffler is an assistant professor in the University Libraries and the collections librarian and archivist for the U.S. Catholic Special Collection.

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