By Emily Drooby
Every day, Anne Marie McNerney says the rosary at Saint Francis de Sales Church. For her, it’s a way to strengthen her faith while Mass has been suspended for the pandemic.
However, that all will change on Monday, June 29. That’s when churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn can reopen for weekday Mass. Weekend Mass will start that Saturday, with the vigil Mass on July 4.
“I can’t wait,” Anne Marie, a parishioner of the Belle Harbor, Queens church for 55 years, told Currents News.
She got emotional as she thought of receiving communion for the first time since March.
“It’s going to feel like our first Holy communion, really, it will be,” she said.
Her pastor, Father William Sweeney, is excited to welcome back his flock, but also a little nervous.
“Being back in the church will be good,” he said. “We will be interested to see how many people come. A lot of our senior citizens have already said they’re going to wait a little bit and come whenever they can.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn has put strict safety measures into place to keep people safe — that includes limiting church capacity to 25 percent and requiring masks.
Over in Coney Island, the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace have made their own branded masks as way to get their people ready for Mass, but also reinforce their church community.
“You go outside wearing a mask and, you belong to Our Lady of Solace,” explained Epifania Tolama, the church’s secretary. “This is your parish, this is your family. It’s a sense of community. Even if we haven’t seen each other in a long time.”
Our Lady of Solace has already sold 50 masks. Parishioners can buy them for six dollars at the rectory, and they cost almost that much to make.
“Every other day they seem to ask me, ‘When are you opening again?’ So I’m glad to finally have an answer,” said Father James Rodriguez, the administrator of Saint Rose of Lima Church.
He says his parishioners are excited to come back. However, even though they’re also following strict safety restrictions, some are still fearful. So, for now, they will continue to also live stream.
“For the people who can’t come or the people who would rather not come, the people who choose to exercise that kind of caution,” Fr. James explained.
Every church is different, so it’s important people check with their parish about their Mass schedule and safety precautions.