Metro Detroit Catholics return to public Mass following months-long shutdown due to COVID-19

Congregants describe services as 'emotional,' yet 'peaceful'
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 17:28:57-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — After two months of online-only services, some Catholic churches within the Archdiocese of Detroit opened to the public Tuesday for the first time since the stay home executive order was issued.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is allowing parishes to reopen at 25 percent capacity with some changes. For those at today’s noon Mass at St. Aloysius in Detroit, it was 100 percent emotional.

With the ringing of the bells, St. Aloysius in downtown Detroit welcomed worshipers for the first time in two months. For the first time since the pandemic hit metro Detroit.

As hearts and spirits were lifted, faces were covered. Masks are now a requirement to attend Mass. There is no holy water as you enter the sanctuary, instead multiple signs with social distancing instructions are placed next to bottles of hand sanitizer.

No physical contact is allowed when greeting each other and two out of every three pews were closed to facilitate social distancing.

Today, Father Mario Amore addressed the feeling of emotional and spiritual distance some may have been feeling.

“That might be a real feeling that you yourself have been facing, that in a sense the lord has been taken away from us,” Father Amore said.

He read from the New Testament a passage where Jesus told his disciples he would no longer physically be with them, but that an advocate would come, the Holy Spirit.

“The Lord promises to be with us always,” Father Amore said.

Then came Time for the Eucharist. Father Amore used a liberal amount of hand sanitizer before serving communion, which entailed only crackers, but no wine. Even with the changes, many eyes welled up, and many hearts filled up.

“During Mass I was emotional, I had to keep myself from tearing up,” Father Amore said.

Congregants echoed the same.

“I just feel really joyful, I’m trying hard to hold back the tears,” says Fran Ashe.

And a common feeling was of peace during the service, even amid such uncertain times.

“My experience was just peace," said Reginald Kakos. "It was just nice to be back where you feel you’re at home."

Another congregant, Jerry Ashe, adding, “I felt very peaceful after receiving the holy eucharist, very peaceful and thankful that I could do it."

Each parish within the archdiocese will have it’s own procedures based on size and design, but none will exceed 25 percent capacity. Those at today’s noon Mass say they felt safe and while there are adjustments to make, they feel good about precautions being taken. Happy and overflowing with gratitude that the doors to their church are open once again.

“See people, be with people, share in the presence of Christ ... it’s just an amazing feeling,” Kakos said.

Father Amore adding that today's service came with excitement.

“Just an excitement that we can move forward day after day and celebrate together,” he said.

They are encouraging those over 65 to stay home and allowing each parish to open when it is ready, all churches in the Archdiocese of Detroit will be open by next Friday.

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