By Paula Katinas and Currents News Staff
WINDSOR TERRACE – Three months after churches were closed because of COVID-19, Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens will once again be able to attend Mass.
The Diocese of Brooklyn announced on June 19 that churches will be open for daily Masses starting, Monday, June 29.
Sunday Masses can resume on the weekend of July 4-5.
“Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens have been longing for the celebration of Mass and to receive the Holy Eucharist. But our sacrifice and patience have borne fruit, and we did our part to flatten the curve of the terrible coronavirus pandemic. Soon we can come together to be nourished by the spiritual food we have been desperate for,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement.
There will be plenty of safety precautions in place, however.
For one thing, churches will only be permitted to operate at 25 percent capacity. Social distancing will be strictly enforced.
Everyone who enters church must wear a face mask.
There should be no entrance procession for any Masses. The music ministry will be limited to the organist and a cantor who must practice social distancing. The cantor should not sing from the same place from which the lector reads. And there will be no choirs at Masses at this time.
There will be no missals, worship aids or other types of reading materials in the pews.
There will be no Handshake of Peace during the Mass. The diocese is strongly recommending that Catholics who attend mass receive Holy Communion in the hand, not the tongue. There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.
Bishop DiMarzio ordered all churches in the diocese to close on March 20 in an effort to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
In early May, he organized a committee tasked with developing a plan of action to reopen churches once the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The bishop tapped Joseph Esposito, the former commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and the retired chief of department in the New York Police Departments, to chair the committee.
Bishop DiMarzio announced Phase One of the reopening plan late last month, allowing churches to reopen for private prayer.
The start of Masses signals Phase Two of the plan.
Esposito, whose committee included among its members law enforcement, medical personnel, and clergy, said he’s pleased to see the start of Phase Two. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this. It finally seems like it’s going to happen,” he said on June 19.
Esposito, who attends church at St. Athanasius Church, Bensonhurst, said parishioners around the diocese have expressed a strong desire to go back to church for Mass. “They’re dying to get back into church. They’re longing for that communion with their fellow parishioners,” he said.
Since each church is different, the diocese recommends that parishioners check with their individual parishes, parish websites and social media pages for Mass schedules and specific information.
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in effect until further notice. Masses will continue to be broadcast live on the Diocesan cable channel, NET-TV, and streamed online. NET-TV is available in the New York City market on Spectrum, channel 97; Optimum, channel 30; and Fios by Verizon, channel 48.