You’re not going to stop Jerry Zielinski of Glastonbury from coming to Christmas Eve Mass in person.
Even in a pandemic.
“I just feel very protected. God is watching over me and I would rather be here than in a mall,” Zielinski said at St. Paul’s Church, part of the Saints’ Isadore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury.
Christmas Eve is a holy day for many in our state. The pandemic has made it that more challenging to observe it.
Churches like Zielinski’s are offering in person services by taking a lot of precautions. Masks and social distancing for sure. Communion at the end of the mass as you leave, and reserved seats to prevent overcrowding.
“People come in one way, they leave another way, holy communion is distributed at the end of Mass so people don’t have to return to their pews,” explained Fr. Mark Suslenko of Saints’ Isadore and Maria Parish.
Usher David Berger spoke with us right before the early afternoon Christmas Eve Mass at Saints’ Isadore and Maria.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure that they stay socially distanced as they check in and do it as efficiently and quickly as possible for us,” Berger said.
Connecticut has not seen a return of the outdoor services in parking lots, as we witnessed back at Easter.
Connecticut has been the exception rather than the rule, according to Bishop John Selders with the Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford.
“Some of my colleagues and friends across the country who are in warmer climate spaces are having similar gatherings, whether it be in parking lots or drive by," Bishop Selders said.
What has also been taking off are virtual and streaming services, including Christmas Eve Mass, like the one held at Zielinski’s church. Bishop Selders also offers them.
“There’s been no problem they, in fact, enjoy that we’ve gone to this virtual way of worshipping," Selders said.
Bishop Selders believes houses of worship will have a tough time turning off the streaming church services even when the pandemic ends, due to their popularity.