AUSTIN, Texas - The church bells resounded at noon at St. Mary Cathedral, beckoning its parishioners. On May 5, the Diocese of Austin resumed public mass, but with some changes.
“We are cleaning the pews. We have roped the pews so they have a space between all of them. When they come up in lines we have them spaced out at six feet. We are cleaning surfaces they touch inside the church and also bathrooms after any service,” said St. Mary Cathedral Father Daniel Liu.
The service may not be routine, but many are just glad to come back. “Doing virtual mass at home, it’s just odd not to have people around you. You have to get fulfillment somehow though,” said parishioner Kelly McCarthy.
“Preaching to an empty church was a different experience. Having people there with you is something that draws more energy for priests,” said Liu.
The Diocese of Austin is resuming services, but different faith leaders in the area all are making decisions at a different pace.
“We are going to be staging the process, making it more of a process than a single event. We hope to have our reopening on May 31, Pentecost Sunday,” said Dr. J. Kie Bowman, senior pastor at Hyde Park Baptist Church.
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Bowman said he wants church staff well prepared to reopen the building.
“We are a large congregation and I’ve been in contact with most of the other large congregations in the city. I would rather regret opening one week too late than regret opening one week too soon,” said Bowman.
Liu said the cathedral in no way is requiring parishioners to attend church. In fact, the Diocese of Austin urges those who are 65 and older and/or sick, to stay home. They are offering dispensations for those unable to attend mass.
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