The Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s 70 parishes all will move into phase 3, along with the rest of Virginia on Wednesday.
When the state moves into phase 3, the limit on the number of parishioners attending mass will no longer exist.
The Diocese of Arlington is excited to see some sense of normalcy returning.
“It’s really an exciting time for us to be able to join together more fully, and celebrate mass together,” says Amber Roseboom, the director of media relations for the Diocese of Arlington.
While the state was under heavy restrictions prior to starting the reopening process, Roseboom sees a positive side to the pandemic as pastors were forced to innovate to continue spreading the Catholic Church’s teachings.
“It’s been interesting, and really kind of encouraging and inspiring, to see how pastors so quickly went from celebrating mass in person to folks who maybe hadn’t used social media before,” says Roseboom. Suddenly they’re live-streaming masses, and they’re doing all of their spiritual groups and parish groups together virtually on zoom, teams, and stuff like that. So, it’s kind of cool to watch it happen.”
When parishioners return to attending mass in person, they will notice some significant changes.
Masks are required for parishioners age 10 and up.
Social distancing still will be mandatory, although how it will be enforced will vary from parish to parish.
Some parishes have social distancing markers, others will utilize their ushers to help parishioners maintain the necessary distancing.
Some traditions of the Catholic Mass like the sign of peace, where parishioners shake each other’s hands or share an embrace remain suspended, and the holy water fonts remain empty out of an abundance of caution.
For those, who might still be uneasy about attending mass in person, the Diocese of Arlington has this message.
“The Diocese of Arlington has taken the health and safety of parishioners very seriously,” says its media relations director. “It’s been a priority of Bishop Burbidge. And you see that reflected in all the precautions that are being taken. So for folks who are coming back, I think that they can feel confident that they’re doing so in a safe environment.”
Bishop Burbidge has also extended the dispensation from attending Sunday Mass, and Holy Days of Obligation until further notice. So, if parishioners don’t feel comfortable attending mass in person they can continue to remain at home.
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