Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez greets worshippers after Mass May 23 outside the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. CNS photo/Sarah Webb, CatholicPhilly.com

Come back to Mass, archbishop pleads

By 
  • June 4, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- Imploring Catholics of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to return to the celebration of Mass in person, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez launched a major initiative for that purpose on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.

He described the initiative, titled “Nothing Compares to Being There,” in a letter to all Catholics in the archdiocese.

“As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ,” Pérez wrote. “Such a precious gift deserves our reflection and appreciation. It’s not something we can experience virtually. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is real and our personal presence is required to receive it.”

The archbishop noted that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the routines and habits including of Sunday worship changed for everyone. Initially no one could attend Mass except via livestream, and for the past several months people have been able to return to churches in person while observing precautions.

But attendance at most parish Masses has been at reduced capacity. That may reflect people’s fears of virus transmission among crowds, or perhaps an over-reliance on the convenience of livestreamed Masses. Pérez admitted that Masses livestreamed by most of the archdiocese’s churches were “helpful” during the pandemic, but they should not be a substitute if an individual’s ongoing health precautions do not preclude personal attendance.

“Now, as the pandemic wanes and restrictions are lifting, I invite all the faithful of the archdiocese to make their way back to the in-person celebration of the Mass,” Pérez wrote.

During the summertime, parish leaders across the archdiocese will invite their fellow parishioners back to Mass slowly and prepare a “heartfelt invitation” ahead of the concerted push for renewed attendance at Mass in September, according to the archbishop’s letter.

Until then, Pérez encouraged everyone to “come home to the in-person celebration of Mass” because, as he wrote, “Nothing compares to being there.”

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