Local churches keeping parishioners safe during holiday season in pandemic

Hampden County

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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With Massachusetts continuing to set higher daily COVID-19 cases, concerns are growing with places of worship.

Health experts continue to link the rise in cases to large indoor gatherings. But, churches 22News spoke with say they haven’t been the problem. Coronavirus cases have been on the rise again and Governor Charlie Baker says that’s also been the case at church.

Clusters of the virus have been linked to houses of worship, and that has increased concerns about attending Mass, especially during Christmas time.

Rochelle Benoit of Southampton said, “I personally feel uncomfortable in a large crowd, and I think this time in the pandemic has given us a chance to do deeper reflection about our faith.”

Westfield’s Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament is proud to report no COVID outbreaks as a result of their Masses.

“We’ve had great success in people coming and no cases reporting being sick after being here that we know of I think that says a lo,” said Pastor Dan Pacholac.

Christmas is typically one of the busiest times of the year for churches, and a lot of the times you’ll see the pews completely full. but this church in Westfield already has a plan in place to limit the large crowds.

Father Pacholi showed 22News their new-look parish hall, which will be holding some of their Christmas Masses. They also purchased six air purifiers to help keep the air clean. For those not comfortable coming inside for Mass, they can follow along on the radio.

“If people want to sit in their cars and come to chapel doors to receive communion they can have the best of both worlds,” Father Pacholi said.

Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament will not be holding a “Midnight Mass” this year, but they will be having a smaller 10 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve.

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