How are churches preparing for Easter after in-person services canceled last year?

HANOVER, Mass. — As the holiest week of the Christian calendar begins, many churches are looking forward to Easter services after in-person services were canceled in 2020.

At St. Mary’s in Hanover, Fr. Chris Hickey is the pastor. He said the max capacity there now is 140 people with COVID-19 guidelines keeping attendance at 50%.

“For the priest, having people there is everything,” Fr. Hickey said.

For Catholics, services across the Archdiocese will bring back memories, according to MC Sullivan, who is the chief health care ethicist of the Archdiocese of Boston.

“First and foremost, we are having the liturgies, and they will very much look like what we are used to and sound like what we’re used to,” Sullivan said.

That means some singing from small choirs and all done with social distancing and masks.

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After COVID-19 canceled in-person services for Easter last year, some people stopped attending altogether. Boston 25 News spoke to Rev. Laura Everett, who is the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches one year ago. She said many churches lost people and money they normally donated on Sunday.

“Many churches saw a drop in giving and an increase in need,” Rev. Everett said.

So many churches now have outdoor services to accommodate more people amid COVID-19 guidelines.

“We had great success with the outdoor mass before the cold weather hit. People felt very comfortable outside,” Fr. Hickey said.

So, this week, many churches will offer that option this Sunday, especially important for Easter and, Fr. Hickey said, for everyone.

“We’ve been away from each other for too long. Enough of being isolated. We need each other,” Fr. Hickey said.

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