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Coronavirus Leads To Some Changes For Churches During Holy Week

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Joe Holden reports.

Video Transcript

UKEE WASHINGTON: Christians across the region are celebrating Holy Week, and the pandemic has led to some changes. Joe Holden has the details from the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City.

JOE HOLDEN: Good evening. Even with pastors still on edge about crowd size this weekend and how to space people out, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told me a short time ago their message is churches are open.


The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is set to host nearly a dozen services and masses over the next four days. Father Dennis Gill, the cathedral rector, says people need to come back.

DENNIS GILL: If you want me to drill down this message so that I could say it in just one sentence, come to church to celebrate Easter.

JOE HOLDEN: Parishes across the archdiocese of Philadelphia have limped through lean times because of the pandemic's effect on mass attendance.

KEVIN GALLAGHER: We would have usually 1,300 people on a Sunday. And we're hovering right around 400.

JOE HOLDEN: Father Kevin Gallagher, pastor of Saint Denis in Havertown, and pastors just like him have continued to use live systems, technological lifelines to parishioners not ready to return.

KEVIN GALLAGHER: I think that's very important that we connect with our people at home. That was something that, in our parish, we were able to be in their homes last year, a week before masses were suspended.

- Plug into it with a USB.

JOE HOLDEN: At St. Dot's in Drexel Hill, George [? Beakley ?] built a four-camera system. Their live stream is regularly used for weddings, funerals, and other parish functions.

- A lot of people really enjoy what we've done here. It's used a lot. We can see the views every week. And it's not only good for the church, it's good for the school. A lot of school events are live streamed from the church. So the parents love it.

JOE HOLDEN: Before their live stream got up and running, the folks at St. Dot's here decided they were going to broadcast mass out to the parking lot over a radio station.

Father Gill says as more people are vaccinated, parish live streams should be emphasized less and less.

DENNIS GILL: Because live streaming never, ever takes the place of the actual celebration of the sacred liturgy.

JOE HOLDEN: In Center City, Joe Holden, CBS 3 Eyewitness News.