SCRANTON, Pa. — Officials with the Diocese of Scranton say they want to welcome everyone back to church. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Catholics are once again required to attend mass on Sundays and holydays.
The requirement went back into effect on Sunday.
"It is so important for us to be in person, at mass celebrating, praying, singing. nothing beats that, and each week we are so humbled as we watch people come back through the doors," said diocese spokesperson Eric Deabill.
There are still some exceptions—those who are seriously sick or very fearful for their health—but church leaders say for most, getting back to church in person is safe.
“It was a big plus to be able to come back together so grateful that we’re back!” said Rev. Joseph Elston of St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph Marello in Pittston.
The diocese has a safety committee. Members say they are monitoring the health crisis carefully, and if they need to make changes, they will.
“Overwhelmingly, over the last 17 months, we have not seen cases of spread through our churches. We still have a number of safety procedures and protocols in place," said Deabill.
Church leaders add that anyone who wants to can and should wear a mask in church.
“If they’re comfortable coming wearing a mask, that’s fine; we have no restrictions about that. I told them if they’re wearing a mask two years from now, I won’t ask why," said Rev. Elston.