staff photo by phyllis zorn
Father Brian Bebak gives communion to parishioner Nick Kraus on the first weekend since the start of pandemic stay-at-home orders members were allowed to attend services at Marion.
Catholics return to worship
Members of Holy Family Parish got their first opportunity in weeks to attend Mass this past weekend.
Every other pew was taped off and hymnals were stacked in the front corner of the church, both steps taken to discourage spread of COVID-19. A central aisle used by worshipers to come forward for communion was marked with tape showing social distancing space of six feet.
No hymns were sung.
“The more singing, the more particles in the air,” said Rose Davidson, parish secretary and bookkeeper.
The Wichita Diocese, in cooperation with the state’s other three dioceses, set guidelines for reopening services.
Individual churches are to allow no more than one-third of building capacity. In the Marion church, that meant no more than 83 people. They had to enter through a single, propped-open door monitored to count how many came in.
One hundred fifty church members showed up at the four weekend services and none were turned away.
“Welcome back,” Father Brian Bebak said as the service began. “A warm welcome back to everyone.”
He told worshipers their obligation to attend services weekly remains set aside, as it has been since COVID-19 restrictions began.
“It’s no sin if you do not feel comfortable coming to Mass,” he said.
Pews were sanitized between each of the four weekend services for Catholics who normally attend at Marion, Pilsen, Tampa, and Florence, and it is not known whether the process might damage wood pews, Bebak said.
One parishioner asked about making confession, and Bebak said confession would be offered for 45 minutes before services, with the confession booth sanitized between visitors.
Bebak wore a mask when he gave communion to worshipers, sanitized his hands before and after communion, and said he would sanitize if he touched someone’s tongue while giving a communion wafer. Parishioners were encouraged to take the wafer in their hands.
“This is the first time my hands have seen more alcohol than my mouth,” Bebak quipped.
All other parish activities remain canceled.