Keep health and safety protocols in mind as churches reopen, and a new normal begins

MORNING MASS: Carmelita Millinchamp, left, and Dolores Borja were among the attendees of the 9:30 a.m. Mass outside the Dulce Nombre De Maria Cathedral-Basilica on Sunday, May 3, in Hagåtña. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

In another week, the island’s Catholic faithful will return to Mass inside churches with some strict limitations.

The announcement by Archbishop Michael Byrnes will likely be welcomed by many who have attended Mass these last couple of weeks in church parking lots. Some people, even before the archdiocese started these outdoor Masses, would go to the doorsteps of the Cathedral-Basilica on Sundays.

The fact that so many on the island have gone to such lengths to practice their faith is testimony to the importance of religion in the lives of Guamanians. To them, the ability to worship as a community is just as important to overall health as physical exercise. The archbishop commented on this: “We agree with President Trump that houses of worship and the activities of faith and worship that take place within the sacred walls are vital to numerous human beings.”

Kudos to the many church leaders, Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Jewish, Lutheran and other faiths on island, who have found ways to continue leading their congregations during the pandemic.

We remind everyone, church leaders and parishioners alike, to follow health and safety protocols while at church – i.e., use your masks, have your hand sanitizers handy, and practice social distancing.

The archdiocese, while opening the doors of Catholic churches, is also instituting basic health and safety protocol. Masks will be required, the numbers of people in attendance cannot exceed 50% capacity, and social distancing will be enforced.

We, as individuals in the community, should also carefully consider whether we should celebrate Mass inside the building or via livestream, which has become a common channel of communication for many local churches. While we all want to resume a normal life, the simple truth is the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a sometimes fatal respiratory infection, is still out there.

It’s important to understand that we all have a role in keeping the virus from spreading and getting more people sick. Whether we’re going to the store, the post office, a restaurant, to work or to church, we all should always follow the protocols that have been put in place to keep ourselves, our families and our community safe.

Recommended for you