NP churches making decisions on reopening

NP churches making decisions on reopening

St. Anthony Church, 1413 Mineral Spring Ave., gets a facelift as its bricks were repointed last week. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – In Rhode Island the reopening date for churches was deemed to be this Saturday, May 30, and the churches in North Providence have been working through various scenarios on how to proceed.

Mary, Mother of Mankind church, at 25 Fourth St., has a couple of potential scenarios in mind as its leaders plan its first Mass for Saturday.

“Right now we can accommodate about 65 parishioners,” said the Rev. Dennis Kieton. “If we can get another priest, we will have an overflow in the hall, setting up another 55 seats, spread way apart.”

The church has updated times of Masses on its website with directions for parishioners to follow. On Saturday, there will be a Mass upstairs with Rev. Kieton at 4 p.m. allowing in about 60 people. Downstairs there will be 40 people with another priest.

This Sunday, May 31, there will be a “normal” Mass at 8 a.m. upstairs for 60 people.

Mary, Mother of Mankind can typically fit about 250 parishioners, but in adherence with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s rules, they are allowing only 25 percent capacity.

Holy Communion will be distributed by Kieton, who will sanitize his hands after each individual. Face masks will be required.

“We’ve asked the sick and elderly with a compromised immune system to stay home,” Kieton said. “If you are not feeling well, you are asked to stay home. The bishop has given permission to miss Mass without sin.”

Pews will be marked off with people being spread out unless they come in as a family.

After the weekend, morning Masses will continue Monday through Thursday at 8 a.m. Kieton said the church doesn’t usually get more than 20 or 30 people during this time. The church will then remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for visitation.

During the closures, Kieton has done a daily Mass on Facebook except on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We’ll see how it goes the first week and will stay close to the guidelines offered by the bishop,” he said.

Bishop Thomas Tobin has put a video on letting parishioners know what to expect as some churches reopen.

Saint Anthony Church, at 1413 Mineral Spring Ave., has posted the video on its website and the staff said that they will open this weekend and adhere to all of the guidelines. With three parishes under his command, Rev. Edward Cardente will have Masses only at two of them. Starting on Sunday, Cardente will hold a Mass at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 10 a.m. and then at 11:30 a.m. at St. Anthony. They will allow in only 25 percent of the total capacity and seating will be filled with those who are there first. The staff said that for a little while they will keep doing just the one service at each church. Communion will be offered but is not required.

St. Anthony is not normally open during the week but starting June 1, the church will start doing funeral Masses again. The chapel will only be open for private prayer with no formal Masses from Monday through Thursday.

Since Easter Sunday, Cardente has held online services that go up on the church website.

While St. Anthony’s has been closed, workers have done some repairs, including repointing the outside brick.

While some churches are on for opening this weekend, others are still weighing their options. The Rev. Rob Ventura of Grace Community Baptist Church, 621 Woonasquatucket Ave., said the church is still discussing among its leadership team what they are going to do.

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Restoration Church, at 244 Lexington Ave., has offered drive-in services each Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., while also broadcasting on Facebook. The church keeps members informed and up to date with its Facebook page, which states that services will reopen in coming weeks when the church is fully ready. Restoration Church has also been doing some renovations.

St. James Episcopal Church, at 474 Fruit Hill Ave, will not be opening back up this weekend.

“We desperately went to reopen, but we want to do it right,” said the Rev. John Reardon. “We will open as soon as we can.”

Reardon wants a return to the Eucharist Mass, but the church has gone back to morning prayer on Facebook. He said he also does a nightly prayer.

Reardon said the church will start to prepare for reopening and might consider some outdoor services with some good weather.

He said that even though they are a small church, they’ve had good numbers online on Saturdays and Sundays and have seen new parishioners “attend” there. The church itself can hold about 75 people, but Reardon said on a good Sunday they have about 25 total. Twenty-five percent of capacity represents about 17 people. Reardon said he is hoping that if they hold off on reopening for a bit, they might be able to get everyone back in at once.

Since they have been able to reach so many people through Facebook and are sure that some of the older parishioners might wait to come back, Reardon said the church will keep putting content online. The church now has about 250 Facebook friends, which Reardon said he sees as a silver lining springing out of the pandemic.

He said his main goal is to keep everyone safe, and he will continue to consult with broader church leadership.