Sunday, October 17

Most New York Catholic Parishioners Will Pray at Virtual Christmas Masses Due to COVID-19

The Catholic believer Marina González I was looking this Thursday for information on how to attend and apply for places to participate in the Christmas mass in the St. Paul the Apostle Church, in Manhattan. In times of pandemic, having the desire to attend a religious service is not enough, since the Diocese of New York they have imposed rigorous standards to avoid crowds in the temples.

“I must make a reservation, I hope I have space to come and participate in person, otherwise I have the option of follow her through social platforms, but it’s not the same ”, commented Marina who remembers that on these dates, even standing up, you could participate in the special ceremonies.

Indeed, through the application of event organization ‘eventbrite’In this case, the faithful must obtain a ticket that guarantees access to the different Masses scheduled for this December 25, when the Catholic Church commemorates the birth of Jesus.

The temples of the Big Apple must abide by the regulations of the Health authorities that impose that in these enclosures it should be allowed between the 50% and 33% of its capacity according to the COVID-19 risk zone, where each church is located.

In churches such as San Paúl El Apostol the faithful must reserve. (Photo: F. Martínez)

Technological gap

The Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn serving a community of more than 3.5 million Catholics In New YORK City, depending on the location of their parishes, they have different criteria for how to participate in the Easter Masses that are usually the most popular on this holiday calendar.

But for many Catholic followers there is a technological gap that leaves them out of the possibility of following their rituals.

Such is the case of the retired Peruvian Dulce Pereira, 70, who has attended the Saint Anthony of Padua church in The Bronx what she calls the “Mass of the child Jesus”.

This year everything seems “reworked.”

“I live alone, I don’t know how to get into those things on the internet, to follow this mass. And in the church they tell us that if we are already old and we have pre-existing diseases, we’d better stay home, ”said Dulce, who is diabetic and hypertensive.

As in most notices, in each of the parishes, the faithful of the third age are exhorted to not attending face-to-face activities of the temples.

The methods for allowing access to churches and complying with social distancing regulations are varied. In most cases, electronic reservations, raffles or phone calls have been devised. They have also been placed marks on the seats and areas in the religious precincts have been closed to avoid concentrations.

In churches the seats are marked to guarantee social distance. (Photo: F. Martínez)

Masses for few

In the case of St. Anselm Catholic Church in Brooklyn, which has room for 700 at its most popular Christmas services, this Christmas Eve Attendance was limited to 156 people.

Also the Church of St. Alban the Martyr in Queens, two Masses would be celebrated on Christmas Eve and its capacity would be restricted to 40 people instead of 150. The ceremony will also be broadcast live on Facebook.

Other temples made more radical decisions, for example the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, which generally gathers up 6,000 people at his popular Christmas Eve Eucharist, He preferred not to give options and preferred to be cautious canceling the Easter masses replacing them with live broadcasts.

“Not having anyone here on Christmas Day takes us out of a normal way of being together because it is very difficult to minister to a very large group of people, ”the Reverend Canon Patrick Malloy told local media.

Only 700 people in San Patricio

For the famous Midnight Mass midnight of the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, for several weeks there were no longer ‘quotas’ to participate in person in that massive liturgy. Only 700 people can attend who entered a lottery.

“This year, I will be watching a church two-thirds empty, which is understandable, we are eager to obey all security requirements, “said Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral will offer fewer Masses in the days following Christmas than in previous years and encourages its membership to accompany them. through digital platforms.

“You never want to hand out tickets to Mass because if there is something that is open to everyone, it is the sacraments, but we had to do it. This year I will look at the families where some grandparents couldn’t come. I am going to look at the families that could even have a tear in their eyes because they lost someone to the pandemic, ”concluded the religious leader.

Follow the ceremonies virtually:

  • The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens has NET TV, that regarding the The pandemic has expanded the broadcast schedule to include masses and ceremonies in seven languages.
  • You can find the schedules of the special liturgical acts Christmas Eve and New Year, in Spanish, in the web of NET-TV. It can be viewed in the New York City area at Spectrum (Canal 97), Optimum (Channel 30) and FIOS (Canal 48).
  • Masses will also be broadcast live on the website: org/masses.
  • For a complete list of options in Spanish visit:

Catholics in NY

  • 1.5 million Catholics of Brooklyn and Queens serves the Diocese of Brooklyn which governs 250 parishes in these counties.
  • 2.80 million Catholics in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island governed by the Archdiocese of New York.

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