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Parishes prepare for greater numbers

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Fr James McCarthy is pleased with the progress of gradual return to normal Masses at Cronulla. PHOTO: Supplied

Strict precautions in place for Masses as restrictions lift

Parishes across Sydney are getting ready with stickers, sanitiser and smiles to welcome larger congregations to Masses this weekend.

The Archdiocese of Sydney is urging the faithful to check online with their parish or call for details if they are unsure about how it is responding to the lifting of restrictions on churches in NSW to allow up to 50 people to attend worship, private prayer and funerals, and up to 20 people to attend weddings.

It is also asking people to register at in keeping with government health directives.

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Parish priest of St Aloysius church in Cronulla Fr James McCarthy said it was “a real joy” to be welcoming more people to join him at the celebration of liturgies.

The Archdiocese of Sydney’s campaign to inform Catholics of relaxed restrictions. Image: Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

“A couple of weekends ago was the first time in 10 weeks I celebrated Mass without a camera in front of me,” said Fr McCarthy.

“Just having people in the church with me again is a real joy.”

St Aloysius’ has run a heavy schedule of weekday and eight weekend Masses and Eucharistic Exposition to accommodate as many people as possible under the 10-person limit since 15 May.

Parishioners are still required to register their attendance online or by calling the parish office. There is a full volunteer cleaning register and stickers have been placed on pews and on the floor in aisles to assist with social distancing requirements.

Parish secretary of St Michael’s church at Meadowbank Lou Temprosa said the phone was ringing off the hook with people excited about the return to a full complement of Masses from Tuesday to Sunday after weeks of having Masses available only on two weekdays. By Tuesday this week the Saturday vigil was already booked out.

“People are asked to register their place using an online booking system or by calling the office, with many volunteering to clean and disinfect the church after each Mass,” she said.

Many parishes placed photos on empty pews while churches were closed and priests livestreamed Masses over Easter.

“We’ve been inundated with enquires. Everyone is very happy and people say it’s great to be getting back to church and have things return a bit more to normal.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP’s dispensation from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass is being maintained throughout the pandemic. He has asked people who are unwell to stay away and those with compromised immune or respiratory systems or aged over 70 to be extra cautious.

Catholics not attending Mass are asked to keep Sunday holy with activities such as prayer, scripture reading and watching a livestreamed or recorded Mass online.

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