SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy days is reinstated Sunday in the Diocese of Scranton.
But as Lackawanna County reaches “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19, the Bishop is now encouraging the faithful to wear masks at church.
Parishioners at St. Ann’s Basilica sung hymns of worship at an outdoor Mass on a weekend when the Diocese of Scranton reinstated the requirement to attend weekly Mass for the first time since March 2020. But the decision to return to in-person worship was made when COVID cases were declining. Now, since cases are on the climb, the Diocese strongly urges worshippers to mask up.
“I’m so happy that we’re able to return to Mass and if it’s that we have to wear a mask, we have to wear a mask. At least we’re here in person, we could receive the Sacrament,” Joann Jordan of Carbondale said.
Father Richard Burke and others distributing Communion wore masks to follow Bishop Joseph Bambera’s guidance.
“Safety is the number one priority. And it has been for a year and a half and it continues to be. And now with the increase with the Delta variant, causing such an increase in cases, he is reminding everybody, it’s very important to pay attention to the safety protocols we’re all familiar with now,” Father Burke said.
The mask recommendation applies to church-goers regardless of their vaccination status.
“I think it’s a necessity, not only for protection for yourself, but for other people as well. Some people that are immunocompromised still want to come to Mass and I think it’s the safe thing to do, I think it’s the polite thing to do,” Mary Lesho of Scranton said.
Keeping the faith while keeping other people safe.
“If I could protect somebody from getting it, now my husband and I had a very, very mild case, but it was a fear every night going to bed thinking, will one of us leave in an ambulance tonight. So if I could keep that fear from one person, I’ll wear the masks as long as they want,” Susan Yanchik of Scranton said.
Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy days are encouraged to spend time in prayer and encouraged to watch televised or live stream Masses.