“For my wife and I, our biggest joy was to be able to receive Holy Communion again,” said Jim Wallaesa, tearing up, while attending a recent “parking lot” Mass at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton.
“I couldn’t wait for that to happen after being away for so long. We both cried the first time. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. When you are away from the Holy Eucharist, you come to appreciate it more and realize how much you really need it.”
The main thing that is missing for people watching Mass online is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, said Monsignor Stephen Radocha, pastor. “This is a teachable moment for us to talk about the Mass and why it is so important,” he said.
The parishes in our Diocese have become very creative during this uncertain time of Coronavirus.
St. Jane offered parking lot Masses on the weekends for the month of June to start bringing people back to the Holy Eucharist. “We are gradually easing back into church and making people feel comfortable,” said Monsignor Radocha.
“Some of the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are coming and feel more comfortable in their cars than going in the church right now. It gives them a chance to participate and receive Holy Communion.”
Mass was celebrated inside the church while participants were asked to remain in their cars and join by tuning their car radio to FM 97.3 to listen, or they could choose to watch Mass on their personal device. The Mass is livestreamed on the parish website.
The first weekend in June, Holy Communion stations were set up outside so people would not have to enter the building. Parishioners came just inside the door to the gathering space to receive Holy Communion.
When Mass concluded, the Holy Eucharist was distributed by the priests and deacons. Those in attendance remained in their cars until directed by an usher and followed the markings on the ground for social distancing.
Baskets for offertory donations were located near each Holy Communion station. After reception of Holy Communion all were encouraged to make their prayers of thanksgiving in their cars and then exit the parking lot.
Each Mass had people assisting as parking lot attendants and ushers, easily spotted by their bright yellow vests. It was their job to stand at the parking lot entrance and greet those coming for Mass.
“One of my dilemmas was who was I going to get to help,” said Monsignor Radocha. “Most of my ushers are older, so I put something on the website asking for help, and within a week I had eight to ten people for each Mass. We had a little training meeting the week before we started. It was a new experience for all of us and there were many questions.”
“Everything went pretty smoothly from week one,” said Wallaesa, who volunteered to be an usher at the Saturday 5 p.m. Masses.
Church Masses resumed at St. Jane the weekend of July 4-5.