Diocese of St. Augustine resumes public Mass

Other denominations also held services Sunday

Catholic churches within the Diocese of St. Augustine reopened Sunday for Mass. Other denominations held services, too.

A group of people waiting to go inside St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Riverside waited patiently for the doors to open, 15 minutes before Mass began. It was the first time parishioners were allowed back into the church in weeks. George Torres was one the churchgoers waiting.

“I am glad to be back," Torres said.

He had with him a mask, which is required for all Catholic churches within the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Due to the coronavirus, other changes include: Holy Water stoups will be empty, the Sign of Peace will be modified or not acknowledged and collections will be made individually, not shared. In addition, each church will offer additional services to accommodate parishioners, and Mass will continue to be streamed online.

Riverstone is a Baptist church on Jacksonville’s Westside. Duke Earrey attends Sunday service at that church.

“I am glad. I am ready to go back. We have been watching it on TV, and it’s just not the same as sitting in the church. I think the people who greet them, they open the door, so there will be no going in and touching and hugging like a lot of them do in the church. There won’t be nothing there as food goes,” explained Earrey.

That’s in addition to social distancing practices. Fellowship will also be from a distance.

“From a distance, I reckon, but that is one of the things we miss, not being around a lot of our friends. We will just holler at each other across the aisle and ask each other how we’re doing,” Earrey said.

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