BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Father Gerard Sauer was overjoyed to be leading the faithful once again at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church Monday.
Regular religious services here and across the Diocese of Brooklyn were halted on March 15 because of the coronavirus.
“To be back with doors open and people in the pews, it’s sort of an indescribable feeling,” Father Sauer said.
The churches reopened on May 26 for gatherings of up to 10 people, but Monday’s 8:15 A.M. mass was the first here since the pandemic erupted.
Still, it is not a full return to normal.
No more than 25 percent of the pews can be occupied.
Masks are mandatory, and there is no holy water, or singing of hymnals. But that’s not all.
There are papers on the pews at St. Patricks Church in Bay Ridge indicating where people are allowed to sit. Parishioners are allowed to sit where they see green, but the red is off limits to help people practice social distancing.
And there is a strict protocol for receiving Holy Communion. The wine is not being offered and people must walk to the side and pull down their mask away from the priest to receive the Eucharist.
“People are just willing to be here and they are willing to take any concessions as we are able to bring people back and safely, of course,” Sauer said.
Rosemary DeLorenzo, a congregant here with her husband for nearly 20 years, was one of 25 people attending Monday’s morning mass. Although she watched a live-stream of the mass when attending services was forbidden, she said she’s elated to get back into her routine.
“We come every day. We missed it terribly. We did pray at home, but there is nothing like being here in person,” DeLorenzo said.
Many we spoke to said they feel safe being back.
“I live and work near here. I feel safe anywhere,” congregant Larry Clark said.
“They would never put us in a position where we don’t feel safe, all the CDC protocols are being met,” congregant R.J. Lewis said.
St. Patrick’s is holding a daily noon mass in addition to the 8:15 A.M. service.
The Brooklyn Diocese will resume Saturday evening and Sunday morning masses this weekend.