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Parishioners welcomed back to Sunday mass at Cathedral of Saint Joseph

"We are excited to be back. We've been doing the virtual mass during the pandemic shut down but it's not the same as being with everybody."

HARTFORD, Conn — For the first time in months, a Sunday mass was celebrated in person at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford.

"To have people back in the pews and being able to respond is just wonderful especially for the Sunday liturgy," said Rev. Daniel J. McLearen, Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.

Mass has been shared online, but parishioners say it meant a lot to them, to be back with each other.

"I like to be back, I need the face to face in the church. For me, it was a big deal," said Dorota Chmielewska of Hartford.

"We are excited to be back. We've been doing the virtual mass during the pandemic shut down but it's not the same as being with everybody," said Bob Mullen of Vernon.

Inside the cathedral, things still aren't quite the same. People are expected to wear masks, and asked to bring their own hand sanitizer.

There is no singing allowed yet. The pews are sanitized between each mass, and there's a limit of only 100 people, so you are asked to register ahead of time.

"We serve people from very far away and we don't want to turn anyone away from the door," said Rev. McLearen.

To enforce social distancing, the pews are sectioned off to separate each group that comes in. When people come up to get communion

there's a marker on the ground letting them know where to stand.

"When they come up to receive communion they receive it in the hand with a mask on, and I wear a mask as well and then they move to the side six feet away, remove the mask, consume the Eucharist and move on," said Rev. McLearen.

They are changes that are necessary, but may take some getting used to.

"For me, first time in my life i took communion in my hand," said Chmielewska. "But I understand it's no other way then I did that," she said.

The hope is that it will all help to get to a place where even more people can be welcomed back inside.

"There is a protocol that is I think helpful that as long as we follow and people are respectful of that I think it'll be sooner that we'll be able to open back up to normal operations," said Rev. McLearen.

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