St. Raphael’s Church preparing for first in-person mass in months

St. Raphael's in Bay Village prepares to welcome back its congregation

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Churchgoers have been attending mass virtually for more than two months due to the pandemic. In just a few days, they’ll have the option to attend mass in church.

St. Raphael’s Church in Bay Village is looking forward to Tuesday morning at 9:15. That will be the first in-person mass since March 17.

Father Eric Garris said, “So, we’ve been asked to operate at fifty percent capacity. What we’ve been hoping to do is have every other row. On the floor, we have these dots that signify what 1 foot is and 6 feet. The hope is that the individuals coming in after they’re seated by our ushers, will be in place and will be 6 feet apart socially distant."

After every mass, the entire church must be sanitized. Parishioners are asked to wear masks.

The Sweeney family says from what they see, they feel very comfortable coming back to mass. “It was wonderful having virtual mass, but now that were in here it feels like home and we’re glad to be back,” said Beth Sweeney.

The church holds more than 1,200 people, but they’re only allowed about 600 at this time. Father Eric believes it will take some time to fill all those seats. “We’ve been hearing around the country places that are open and you have churches that seat 2,000 and getting 80 in the first week,” he said.

Masses will continue to be streamed live for those who aren’t ready to attend mass in church.

Father Tim Gareau says the most difficult, heartbreaking part of these last few months is not being able to help those most in need. “People are waiting to bury their loved ones. We’ve had some ceremonies at funeral homes and going to bury then at the cemetery, but there are several that are waiting,” said Father Tim.

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