Catholic Diocese of Richmond eases mask mandate, social distancing guidelines

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 8:20 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Parishes led by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond are easing mask mandates and social distancing guidelines in lieu of Virginia’s lift of COVID-19 restrictions.

The diocese says fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a mask or social distance indoors or outdoors. The diocese is still encouraging unvaccinated individuals, including those over the age of five, to continue wearing a mask and keeping their distance.

On Sunday, Saint Bridget Catholic Church held Sunday morning Mass following the new guidance.

William Carr, pastor at Saint Bridget Catholic Church, said Mass was joyful and deeply touching this weekend.

“People were coming in, people I haven’t seen in person for a year and a half, and coming in with tears in their eyes,” he said.

Carr says the easing in these restrictions means more additions to their Mass.

“The singing has come back. We weren’t allowed to sing while we had restrictions,” Carr said. “The fullness of the team at Mass is coming back. We had a downsized team of priests and deacons.”

Matt Strauser and his wife, Jessie, are among the dozens coming back to the pews for Sunday Mass following the lift in restrictions.

“It was nice to see other people’s faces and nice to be congregated with everyone,” Matt said. “It felt as normal as it could be.”

Strauser said this is the first Sunday Mass he and his wife have been to in over a year. He says he’s thankful to see this return to his routine.

“I grew up Catholic,” Strauser said. “I’ve been going to Sunday Mass for almost 30 years. It was weird to not go for as long as it was, so it was nice to have some normalcy.”

Pastor Carr also hopes to add a third Sunday Mass back on their schedule in the future.

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