What should I do about attending Christmas Mass during the pandemic?

This has been an often-asked question by our parishioners, and it has many concerned especially with the rising number of cases in Westmorland County. Not only have we been unable to attend Mass at Easter, but the thought of not going to church for Christmas is also hard for some to comprehend.

Regional Christmas Mass Schedule

Christmas Eve – Thursday, Dec. 24

  • 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and Midnight

Christmas Day – Friday, Dec. 25

  • 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

New Year’s Eve – Thursday, Dec. 31

  • 5 p.m.

New Year’s Day – Friday, Jan. 1

  • 9:30 a.m.
Christmas Eve – Thursday, Dec. 24

  • 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Christmas Day – Friday, Dec. 25

  • 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

New Year’s Eve – Thursday, Dec. 31

  • 4 p.m.

New Year’s Day – Friday, Jan. 1

  • 9 a.m.

Christmas Eve – Thursday, Dec. 24**

  • 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Christmas Day – Friday, Dec. 25**

  • 10:30 a.m.

New Year’s Eve – Thursday, Dec. 31

  • 4:30 p.m.

New Year’s Day – Friday, Jan. 1

  • 10 a.m.

**NOTE: Reserved seating required for all Christmas Masses at St. Agnes. Please call 724-863-2630.

As Governor Wolf released new restrictions for gatherings in Pennsylvania, in-person worship has not been affected. Celebration of Masses at Immaculate Conception will continue for all regularly scheduled daily Masses, weekend Masses, and Christmas season liturgies. All current safety protocols including masking and social distancing will remain in place.

Here is what you need to know and what you can plan to do to make Christmas Mass possible:

  • Immaculate Conception is adding two more Masses for Christmas
  • The capacity of each of these Masses will be very limited to social distancing mandates
  • Seating capacity will be limited to 176 at Immaculate Conception (instead of 530) and 125 at St. Elizabeth (instead of 300)
  • Masses to avoid on Christmas Eve: 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Immaculate Conception and 4 p.m. at St. Elizabeth
  • Masses with best chance to attend on Christmas Eve: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Masses on Christmas Day morning are usually less full as well
  • Seating will be first-come/first-served
  • No seats will be reserved and no reservations will be taken

THERE IS NO OBLIGATION THIS YEAR TO ATTEND MASS IN PERSON

We are planning a special Christmas Mass that could be viewed online with your family. The video will be available on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. on Operation Safe Mode, our website, and our Facebook page.

My suggestion is that you watch the online Christmas Mass if any of the following situations apply to you:

  • you have not yet ventured out to Sunday Mass since the pandemic began in March
  • you are vulnerable or have compromised health conditions
  • you have visitors from places that may be suffering greater risk

If you desire to receive communion for Christmas, remember you can attend a daily Mass anytime between December 26 and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 10, 2021.

What will happen when the church is full to its permissible capacity?

When the church is full, the ushers will post signs on the doors to inform you that the church is full. The sign will also include the times of the remaining Masses.

I hope this answers the questions you may have about Christmas Masses. I am as frustrated as you and will terribly miss the massive crowds that I am so happy to see celebrate the birth of Christ, but we need to persevere and “Stay Safe in the Lord.”

Remember, it is times like these that saints were forged, so let us all become saints!

In Christ our Lord,

Fr. John