Churches begin to hold in-person masses with some changes in place

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Catholic churches across the Diocese of Scranton, in ‘yellow phase’ counties, can once again hold in-person masses starting Monday. But not all churches are opening up to the public this week.

At Saint Gabriel’s Church, in Hazleton, it is now open for people to come in and pray, and today the first Masses were held in person.

Mark Kelly, parishioner, says, “I’m going to Mass for the first time in a long time.”

Places of worship in the yellow phase are now allowed to hold in-person Mass. Just days ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton sent out regulations to ensure churches gather in safety.

Reverend Mariusz Beczek, pastor at Holy Annunciation Parish, tells Eyewitness News, “All the doors are open during the celebration of the Eucharist, so when people come in and go out they don’t have to touch any surfaces. All the people are required to wear masks.”

At Holy Annunciation Parish, some of the pews are sealed off and the places you can sit are clearly marked to maintain social distancing.

The church will also be sanitized for every Mass.

Beczek tells us, “Oh it’s great, it’s great to be back. For the last several weeks we had Masses, here on Sundays, I preached to an empty church. The Mass was live streamed so it’s great to have people being present at church.”

Gloria Skapik, a parishoner of Holy Annunciation for 10 years, says “Never in a million years did I think they would ever close the church, never.”

But parishoners say they are happy to be in church again.

“Oh it’s great to have the church open again, ” says Skapik.

Kelly comments, “Absolutely, I’m excited to be here. Glad to be coming back. I’m glad my parish is one of the first to open.”

Now for daily Masses, they are only expecting a crowd of only 20 to 30, but if you are looking to come to mass here at Saint Gabriels Church this Sunday, you have to register online. They can only take 100 participants.

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