Coronavirus and Easter: Mass without the masses

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Christians around the world are preparing for Easter services on Sunday, but most won't be attending in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many will be relying on live streams and video conferencing to celebrate the holiday.

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At St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, Associate Pastor Father Travis Russell says that he knows people are feeling alone and disconnected from their traditions; however, he also sees opportunities.

"What I'm calling a new model of old church. It's about getting back to basics, and practicing these great symbols we have of our faith. So for example, on Holy Thursday, we can throw our own foot washing party, we can watch the Prince of Egypt and recount the story of Exodus. Good Friday, there's an opportunity to look outside of ourselves into the wider world to see all the suffering that's going on," Father Russell explains. "On Easter, I think the best medicine for a pandemic is joy. Rejoice in what we have," he said.

It's an adjustment not just for the parishioners, but also for the priests, who have been preaching to empty pews for several weeks. To try to give the empty church a sense of community, the parish asked people to send in pictures of themselves.

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"We have taped them to the pews of people and their families. So even though it's a virtual experience, we also get to see their faces. And we've actually, as Catholics, always sit in the same pews, we have put them where they actually sit," Father Russell said, "So it's wonderful. It's another reminder of this real spiritual communion that we share in the body of Christ."

To hear more from Father Russell, play the video above. For more messages from San Francisco-Bay Area faith leaders during the coronavirus crisis, watch ABC7's one-hour special "Finding Faith, Better Together."

ABC7 News will broadcast the Glide Memorial Church Easter service on Sunday, April 12 from 11 am-12 pm.

Video courtesy: St. Ignatius Parish

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