As of this week, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas has entered Phase 2 of its reopening of the 77 churches that serve 1.3 million Catholics in the nine counties it serves.
As part of Phase 2, many of the churches have been cleared to host one daily Mass, from Monday through Friday. Weekend Masses remain suspended and will continue to be live-streamed online.
A crowd of 18, socially distant and masked congregants gathered for the 8 a.m. mass at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Oak Cliff on Wednesday.
“It was terrible. It was absolutely alarming to not be able to go,” said Anne McManus, 81, of Dallas, about the two preceding months when she was not able to attend church in person. “Even though we would watch mass every Sunday on television, the Bishop would read a prayer for prayer for us to receive communion because we cannot do it, it was not the same.”
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Signs greeting McManus and the other worshippers at Saint Elizabeth urged the faithful to wear masks and to remain socially distant. Ropes were put in place to block off every other pew, in an effort to force the churchgoers to keep their distance.
The parishioners only removed their masks to receive the Eucharist, which was delivered by Father Russ Mower, who donned a mask as he handed over the sacramental bread. The sacramental wine, typically consumed from a communal cup, will not be part of the Eucharist for the time being.
“For now we live with that,” Father Mower said about the changes to the routine. “It’s not the first time that the Christian faith has endured hardships; not even the first pandemic. So we will get through this. As I said this morning in my homily, we are people of faith and it is our faith that will get us through this.”