Metro Detroit catholics attend public masses for the first time since March closures

The Archdiocese of Detroit allowed in-person masses to resume this week amid the coronavirus pandemic

People were back to worship, but changes were made inside the churches.

DETROIT – The Archdiocese of Detroit allowed in-person masses to resume this week for the first time since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the state in March.

MORE: Archdiocese of Detroit announces resumption of public masses during coronavirus pandemic

When churches reopened to the public for the first time this Sunday, social distancing measures were in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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The Archdiocese has mandated that churches cannot exceed 25% capacity, must strictly enforce social distancing and masks must be worn. Communion can be received, but no chalice will be offered to patrons.

Still, the reopening is a special moment for catholics in Metro Detroit.

At Old St. Mary’s in Greektown, Michelle Thigpen and her 9-year-old daughter Milaina visited from West Bloomfield to attend their first in-person mass since March.

“Well since the church was open, my mom and I thought we could come to this church because it is our special church," Milaina said. "It is a very special church.”

Catholics in the area are excited to reconnect in person after months apart. Milaina says she offered special prayers for those in the hospital and to keep people safe amid the pandemic while at the church.

Michelle says she and her daughter felt safe during their visit to the church with the protocols in place.

Father Mario Amore, Pastor of St. Aloysius in Detroit, is calling this weekend of returning a “true test” for the region as worshippers congregate once again.

“It was that little glimpse that things are returning to somewhat normal," Amore said. "We are not there yet but these moments of grace and blessing keep us moving forward and trusting that all will be well again.”

The Archdiocese reminds catholics that they do not have to attend masses if they aren’t comfortable doing so yet -- they are dispensed from attending public masses through September 6 due to the pandemic.

Not all parishes held masses on Sunday as they prepare for people to return. Many of the parishes not open today do plan to be open by the end of the week.

It is up to the churches -- not state or local governments -- to decide when they want to reopen to the public.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.