PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sunday, June 6 may have very well been the first time in over a year that some parishioners actually returned to a church on Sunday, rather than watching virtually from home.
That’s the day Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin reinstated the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass.
“It’s definitely starting to come back. We hope it comes back and then comes back even better than it was before. That’s our hope and our prayer,” said Msgr. Anthony Mancini of the Cathedral Of Sts. Peter & Paul.
While you’ll still see hand sanitizer at the entryways, masks are optional for those who are fully vaccinated. There is no social distancing in place in church and missalettes can be shared again.
While many church’s offered a virtual Mass, Msgr. Mancini says that does not fulfill the obligation.
“You don’t get to receive the body and blood of Christ. You can make a spiritual communion, ask Jesus to come into your heart, but you’re not actually receiving the consecrated host, which we believe is the body and blood of Christ. His real presence among us.”
For parishioners like Vicki Miller, who was born in Italy, online services this past year gave her the opportunity to virtually attend Mass in her home country.
“I took a pause so I’ve actually been watching from Italy. I tend to get up really early, I’m in the medical profession, so I’m used to getting up early, and they broadcast from Rome, so I’ve been watching, but missing, and then recently I started coming again,” Miller said.
“I still do try to observe the six feet, but I try not to stir any fear in any other people, because I think it’s a very individual choice, but certainly I think the trend is in the right direction.”
Bishop Tobin also emphasized that people with health concerns who would put their health or others at risk by going to Mass are not obliged to, and, in some cases, should still not attend mass in person.