'Tremendous sense of joy' as churches open for Sunday Mass
PARISHIONERS across the north yesterday attended the first Sunday Masses since the start of lockdown.
Although Monday was the official reopening date for public worship, for many it was the Sunday services which marked the beginning of a return to normality.
In the Diocese of Down and Connor, where churches are reopening on a phased basis, members of the clergy described it as having been "wonderful to engage with parishioners again".
Fr Eddie McGee, spokesperson for the diocese, said there was a "tremendous sense of joy" at being able to return to public worship.
"There was a real sense of community gathering in prayer. While it has been wonderful to gather as a community online, it isn't a substitute for the act of public worship," he said.
"The protective measures that were put in place seem to be effective, with those gathering using the hand sanitiser and observing social distancing.
"We anticipate that more and more churches will open for public worship as time progresses."
Fr McGee said they had also been joined in prayer by those watching online and that the streaming of Masses would continue.
"I think it will remain with us and will be an important element of our outreach," he added.
A list of the churches which have reopened can be viewed on the diocesan website and Fr Magee said this would be updated as more opened their doors, and that parishioners could also access information through their parishes.
He pointed out that each church will open only when it is safe to do so.