“What a blessing it is to be together,” said Father Michael Mullins, pastor of St. Paul, Allentown, to about 60 people in attendance at Monday’s (6/1) 8:30 a.m. Mass – one of the first Masses celebrated with the presence of the faithful since March 16.
In a world full of pandemic uncertainty, Catholic life as we know it has taken on a whole new look, and attending Mass as we know it has drastically changed.
Many of the changes were evident upon entering St. Paul. Hand sanitizer was placed right inside the door and at the Communion post in front of the church, people in masks socially distanced from each other, buckets and cleanser were off to the side of the altar, and yellow caution tape in English and Spanish was a blaring reminder that we need to remain socially distant.
Mass was livestreamed for those staying home, but Mass attendance was a little higher than normal for a weekday Mass.
“It is so fitting that today we celebrate Mary, Mother of the Church,” said Father Mullins. “Today she brings her children home.” He said Mary was always seeking to be with her son just like we are seeking to be with him in the Eucharist. “We need our Lord.”
At Communion time, Father recited the prayer for spiritual Communion and told those present that Holy Communion would be distributed after Mass.
“I really missed my church,” said RoseAnn Svanda, a parishioner who attends daily Mass regularly and leads the Rosary before Mass. “I am older and I’m at risk, but I’m very glad to come. I take the precautions I need to, and I am glad to be back.”
Deacon Jose DeCastro said, “I have been watching the Mass on Facebook, and today I feel like I’m born again.”
After Mass, Father Mullins commented, “We were celebrating Mass in silence. Now to be able to hear people recite the prayers is like a symphony.”
He wanted to make sure that people don’t feel like they have to come back right away. “We want them to come back, but we want them to be safe. I know there is a hunger for our Lord, and we will be here when they are ready,” he said.
Because of health concerns, many safety precautions have been put into place and may vary slightly from parish to parish. Please check with your parish or consult their website for specifics.
While in the yellow phase, the obligation to attend Mass remains suspended. Those who are not comfortable returning, or who have compromising health conditions, should not participate at this time. Livestreaming of Masses continue to be available, including the Bishop’s Mass every day from his private chapel, viewable on AD Today.