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Pittsburgh diocese set to restart mass, but it’ll look a little different

PITTSBURGH — In less than a week, mass will restart in the Pittsburgh diocese and you might be wondering what that will be like.

It's been shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before you enter the door of St. Anthony’s in Pittsburgh, you’re stopped by a sign on the door reminding you of several things, including wearing a mask when you enter. This is one of the things that will be standard across the board at all 152 parishes in the Catholic diocese.

"I know that when the church buildings reopen, I know that all of us as priests will be excited to see our people again, because that's been a heavy as well," said Bishop David Zubik.

June 1 will be the first day of daily mass, and that weekend some parishes will open their doors to parishioners for the first time since March.

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Take a look at what you might see inside your church:

At St. Anthony's, there's a one-way sign, and arrows on the floor that show you which way to walk. Once you enter the pews, caution tape blocks every other pew for social distancing. Parishioners won't be able to give the sign of peace, or shake hands, nor will they pass around the offertory baskets. The holy water bowls will remain empty for the time being. And so will chalices that usually hold the wine or blood of Christ. But Holy Communion will still be given out by priests into the hands of the faithful. Gloves are not allowed.

"Out of respect for the particles that would come from the Holy Communion, because as Catholics we believe that Holy Communion is in fact the body and blood of Jesus, so it's out of respect for any particles that would be there for sure," said Bishop Zubik.

Parishoners can still receive it on the tongue and hand sanitizer will be immediately available for priests, who will be required to wear masks as they hand it out. Communion will be moved to the end of mass and there will marks in the aisle for people to stand six feet apart.

"So I suspect there will be a lot of tears from people on the part of receiving Holy Communion and tears from us who are able to give Holy Communion," said Bishop Zubik.

Bishop Zubik expects a small amount of people to return initially, so they’ll continue to livestream masses, thereby not making church an obligation.

Not all parishes will reopen June 1. You should call your individual parish to confirm it’s open before heading to mass.

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