By Charlotte Aguilar
Masses at Holy Ghost Church — just west of Bellaire and serving Bellaire- and Gulfton-area Catholic parishioners — have been canceled until further notice after concerns that the death of a priest last week was due to COVID-19 and three community members subsequently testing positive for the virus.
In a message to the Holy Ghost community, Father William Bueche, the Redemptorist pastor of the parish, said the three were asymptomatic but that one had been “active in celebrating public masses” since the Houston-Galveston archdiocese had reopened churches May 2. Bueche urged anyone who attended masses at Holy Ghost this month to monitor themselves for symptoms and to be tested as a precautionary measure.
The developments follow the death last Wednesday (May 13) of Father Donnell Kirchner, who was pronounced dead by paramedics. They had been called by a colleague who checked on the 79-year-old priest at about 7:30 a.m. and “found him unresponsive,” according to the church.
Kirchner had come to Holy Ghost last September. It wasn’t immediately known whether he had displayed virus symptoms or other illness.
Bueche said the church had been in touch with the Houston Health Department, which will designate a contact person to respond to questions from the parish.
A list of testing sites is available at houstonemergency.org/covid19-testing or by calling 832-393-4220.