YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday is Thanksgiving, but leaders of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese are asking parishioners to start thinking about which mass to attend for Christmas.
Most Catholics will admit some of the largest crowds at mass are those on Christmas Eve, but this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, a very familiar passage from the Bible could play out in real time.
“For certain of our parishes, there might not be ‘no more room in the inn’ or the church,” said Monsignor John Zuraw of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese.
Although Ohio’s Catholic Bishops granted dispensation from attending mass when the pandemic first began, leaders with the Youngstown Diocese are trying to balance the health and safety of parishioners with their desire to go to church.
“What we’re asking our parishes to do is to effectively communicate from this point on,” Monsignor Zuraw said.
The 87 parishes in the diocese are being encouraged to add extra masses to their Christmas schedules to spread out their congregations and to live stream services on social media.
In addition, Monsignor Zuraw says attending any mass between Christmas Eve and January 10, observing the Baptism of Jesus, would be considered the same as worshipping on Christmas Day itself.
“Our parishes want to instill in the people that things are different. Things are not going to be the same,” Monsignor Zuraw said.
That could mean starting to plan your own holiday celebrations sooner rather than later.
“I truly believe that this year we have to have patience. We have to have flexibility,” Monsignor Zuraw said. “We have to have understanding.”