After opening its doors last weekend to mass for the first time in weeks, St. Edward Catholic Church is planning for another service this week, while also continuing to follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines of the Diocese of Lafayette as well as the state.
Last Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Phase 1 of reopening the economy, allowing churches and businesses including gyms, barbershops, hair salons, casinos, bars with food permits and other businesses, to reopen to 25 percent capacity.
Yvonne Jolivette works at St. Edward Catholic Church and said the church follows diocese and state guidelines regarding spacing and social distancing as the church continues to remain cautious during COVID-19.
“We blocked off every pew inside the church which is in our guidelines,” Jolivette said. “Everyone is required to wear masks and if it’s a family unit, they can sit together, otherwise we only had three people per pew, spaced (apart).”
When parishioners arrived for their mass, ushers also checked temperatures of those who attended.
“Our turnout was light, naturally, because everyone is still very cautious about coming and we adjusted our mass schedule,” Jolivette said. “We had one on Saturday and one on Sunday.”
St. Edward normally has three masses on Sunday but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church is monitoring attendance and adjusting the number of masses.
Jolivette said masses will increase as attendance grows. Last weekend, the mass lasted around 50 minutes, according to Jolivette
“The homily pretty much was the same length of time but we didn’t have our choir, but we had a small couple of people who were separated and sang with our musicians.”
Though the service and attendance were smaller than the church is accustomed to having, Jolivette said she thought it was a good turnout despite the restrictions.
“People are just not accustomed to coming out yet and feeling comfortable,” Jolivette said. “And I heard comments from a few of our parishioners who are still afraid, who are still concerned about being around a group of people and they are going to be cautious a little bit longer.”
With that in mind, St. Edward will continue following diocese and government guidelines.
“We basically get our guidelines from the Diocese of Lafayette and until they change, we will follow the guidelines they have put in place,” Jolivette said.
When they were finally able to see familiar faces last weekend for their masses, Jolivette said it felt more like a family reunion for those who attend the service.
“You know how you are separated from family members for whatever reason, somebody lives in other states and they come home for that reunion, you’re just excited to be home together,” Jolivette said. “It was something of that type of feeling for me.”
Just seeing those familiar faces, Jolivette, meant not only having a friendly relationship, but a worship relationship as well.
“It was a wonderful experience to be around your friends, your fellow parishioners, worshiping our God,” Jolivette said.