As coronavirus pandemic has reduced the initiative of reopening churches declared in Queens and Brooklyn after the slight fall of the positive cases on NYC Memorial Day. The archdiocese has also announced about releasing the Forward Faith its multi-step that is divided into 5 phases. Small private halls for prayers and about 288 parish churches have been decided to open by 26th May. Social distancing, including other guidelines established on 21st May to ensure safety to the worshipers. Churches were closed from 20th March to open after two months on Sunday the church authorities expect to continue prayers with reduced capacity.
Msgr conducted an attempt to develop guidelines. Joseph LaMorte, archdiocesan vicar general, with the task force, included priests and senior members of their archdiocesan authority. He said that the guidelines are to perform and conclude the sacraments safely by following the advice of the health officials. Chief of hospital epidemiologists at NYU Langone Health, Dr. Micheal Phillips, and Dr. Walid Michelan, Archcare, the chief medical officer has confirmed the guidelines for the safety of the churchgoer’s attendance as stated by Cardinal Timothy M.Dolan of New York. Few private prayer halls were open from March but it is long churches are closed due to exposure of coronavirus pandemic in New York.
All churches will not open together
Due to the coronavirus pandemic in NewYork city and the nearby areas has suffered in greater numbers, Catholics and the outskirt areas were highly infected, which has discouraged the Parish from opening all the churches together. While speaking in the news conference, Mr. Dolon said the about 2.8 million Catholics had been away from the Churches, including the archdiocese.
In order to start with the prayers session, one of the main guidelines, as stated by LaMorte, the priests will be tested twice in a week to detect viruses. Church officials of Brooklyn and Queens are planning to open; meanwhile, the highly affected areas will remain close to protect further spreading of the diseases.
Good News is for the couples who were bound to postpone their marriages due to coronavirus pandemic. Wedding ceremonies are allowed with a small gathering to 10 members. Similar guidelines are issued for the baptism services and funeral services as mentioned by Brooklyn Diocese.
The Faith Forward rules or guidelines were released after working on it for the last five to six weeks focusing on opening the religious spots by maintaining safety under the guidance of healthcare professionals and elected officials of the archdiocese.
Masks are compulsory for worshipers No Holy Water
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worshipers have to wear masks while Holy water and missalettes have been removed, this is for the safety of the worshipers. The decision on reopening of the churches has been announced after Governor Cuomo has announced to allow small religious gatherings. St. Patricks church expects to open it on the Memorial Day, but for other churches if may take few more weeks to implement the guidelines and execute accordingly.
Plans are to provide separate spaces for the families by maintaining the criteria of social distancing. While addressing to the New Yorkers, they said that this religious gathering would be comforting after the stress that they are facing due to the lockdown.
In order to control the mass gathering and increase the awareness of social distancing, leaders in Williamsburg are to charge a fine of $ 1,000 for gatherings more than 10. The guidelines are supposed to continue until any vaccine or medicine discovered to resist the widespread. Meanwhile, the churches planning to open on 26th May will have to follow the Faith Forward guidelines.