An interesting slice of Catholic life, via Religion News Service: 

Catholic churches in California have been resuming baptism, First Communion and Mass services outdoors after a series of COVID-19 closures shut down indoor church services in most of the state. California churches were allowed to reopen late May with attendance limitations, but along with businesses and other public indoor spaces, were once again shuttered as COVID-19 cases surged across the state.

Across the United States, parishes’ celebrations of sacraments and rites have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus, according to a survey of bishops conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

More than half of dioceses reported their celebrations of the following were “very much” affected: confirmations (81%), First Communions (78%), other sacramental preparation (64%), marriages (59%), baptisms (57%) and funerals (54%).

The survey’s findings, which were released in July, included responses from a total of 116 bishops and represent a 60% response rate. Dioceses responded during different periods of COVID-19 lockdown orders.

The report, “Ministry in the Midst of Pandemic: A Survey of Bishops,” also found, in response to the pandemic, bishops issued directives to address the celebration of sacraments, to suspend public Masses, and for parishes to comply with state and local government orders.

For the Rev. Arturo Corral, the early months of the pandemic caused a backlog of about 600 baptisms at Our Lady Queen of Angels. Known as “La Placita” church, the downtown Los Angeles parish is famous for celebrating baptisms, Corral said.

“The people who normally come for baptisms, they’d come with the whole family,” Corral said.

Now, only the parents and godparents are allowed for the outdoor baptism Masses. Corral said the outdoor celebrations have been happening since around late July.

The church baptizes an estimated 200 children during six or seven outdoor Saturday services every week. Their patio isn’t big enough for larger socially distanced groups.

Read more. 

At my parish in Queens, we resumed baptisms in July in the convent chapel (the church was undergoing repairs and renovations). I scheduled a baptism every 30 minutes for a Sunday afternoon, one family at a time, all with masks and social distancing; there was a limit of just 10 people (including baby, parents and godparents).  Next weekend, we’re about to have our first “group” baptism since the lockdown: 9 families at one baptism service, once again back in the church. Life is returning to something resembling normal.

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