The weekly rhythm of Catholic life has begun to return to Our Lady of Lourdes in Harlem. Pews are packed on Sunday morning, prayer groups gather after work, and collection plates are almost as full as they were before the coronavirus pandemic began.
However, parishioners are once again worried about the virus.
“For a while, everyone felt more free without using masks,” said Rev. Gilbert Angel Neri. “But now that we’ve heard all the news about the Delta variant, everyone is using the mask again.”
Progress in Father Angelneri’s church and places of worship throughout New York City could be threatened by an increase in viral cases last month and uneven patchwork of rules governing vaccination.
New rules for controlling the spread of the more contagious delta mutants of the virus include New Yorkers sitting in restaurants and bars, going to gyms and nightclubs, visiting museums and zoos, etc. You need to show evidence of vaccination to participate in many indoor activities. However, they do not apply to religious service, and although approaches vary from place to place, most churches in the city do not need to be vaccinated by worshipers.
“Faith is the light that helps you overcome uncertainty and darkness, but what many have been working on is what you do when the church itself becomes a place of anxiety,” advocacy said. John Göring, Catholic Program Director of the Group, said Faith in Group Public Life.