HARTINGTON — Even though state and federal mandates are limiting public gatherings to 10 or fewer people, area churches are doing what they can to keep faith alive here.
When the COVID-19 emergency first emerged here, Archbishop George Lucas issued a special dispensation giving Catholics permission to skip Mass if they felt it would be a health risk for them. The decision cut the size of the March 14-15 services at Holy Trinity Catholic Church down by a third, Korte said.
Archbishop Lucas has since ordered the church comply with Centers for Disease Control guidance and limit all public gatherings to 10 or fewer people. The decision means parishioners are no longer able to gather on Saturday or Sunday for Mass, but they can find other ways to practice their faith Holy Trinity Catholic Church pastor Fr. Owen Korte said.
The church will still be open for anyone wishing to come in and pray by themselves, but people cannot gather in a group, he said.
He is offering confessions Tuesday-Saturday, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
He will also be celebrating a private Mass daily in his chapel at the rectory. Those Masses will be live streamed on Facebook. The Saturday and Sunday Mass celebrations will also be live streamed on Facebook at @HolyTrinityStMichaelCatholicChurch. The Sunday 10:30 a.m. Mass can also be viewed on Hartelco, Channel 2.
Trinity Lutheran Pastor Amanda Talley said all activities at Trinity Lutheran have also been cancelled. Private church services will still be held, however, and they will be broadcast on Hartelco TV at 9 a.m., Sundays, she said.
The size of gatherings also means funerals will be limited to 10 people or fewer.
"The biggest hardship in this whole thing right now is going to be for the people having funerals," Fr. Korte said. "You just can't have everybody there, and that's really a shame. There is always a possibility of having a celebration of life later on for those people, though."
In every trying situation, people still need to try find a bright spot, Fr. Korte said.
“We are all kind of stuck at home. It’s time to look around and realize just how nice our homes are. How nice we have it compared to some others in the world today,” he said.
Because activities have stopped and schedules have been allowed to free up, Fr. Korte said he has noticed things that people don’t ordinarily have the time to notice.
“I’ve noticed how fortunate we are to live in an area like this where the kids are not cooped up in a high rise apartment. They can get out and do some things. There is a blessing there. It’s a blessing to see that some people are hurting since they cannot go to church. It’s a blessing to see families coming together more.
We need to all take a look at the situation, and look for the bright spots, he said.
“This could always have been worse,” he said. “It could have happened one year ago at this time. Imagine, this, plus all the flooding.”