Many churchgoers in San Francisco are getting ready to celebrate Easter in person on Sunday for the first time since 2019, but services will be a little bit different than usual.
Some churches are preparing to hold Easter Sunday services virtually or outdoors because of the pandemic, while others are gearing up for indoor services.
“Last year during Easter we were closed, so this is a really welcome development,” said Jan Potts, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
COVID-19 regulations currently allow churches to open at 50% capacity in San Francisco, as long as people wear masks.
But city health officials recommend older adults and people with chronic conditions attend church virtually.
Grace Cathedral at California and Taylor streets on Nob Hill is one of the churches opting for completely virtual services, in part to protect the health of its congregation.
“It’s still a very, very serious pandemic,” said Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young.“We don’t want to contribute to the bad health of people in America. And so having things online just makes sense for us.”
St. Ignatius Parish, at Parker Avenue and Fulton Street near University of San Francisco, plans to hold services outdoors instead of indoors, partly because church leaders want the mass to be available to as many people as possible.
“We thought we might not be able to accommodate all the people who want to come for Easter Mass,” said Father Greg Bonfiglio. “So outdoors is unlimited numbers, as long as people are socially distanced and wear their masks.”
The St. Ignatius outdoor masses are so popular that there was a waitlist as of Friday to attend the 8 a.m. and noon services.
The church is one of many planning to continue livestreaming masses online in addition to holding in-person services.
Bonfiglio said St. Ignatius has had 850 to 950 people logging onto livestreamed masses each week, with people watching from across the country.
“The good news is that there are people who are homebound who would not be able to come anyway, so they’re able to join us virtually,” Bonfiglio said. “It’s as simple as watching online or going to reconciliation service online, or masses on Sunday.”
While churches are allowed to have limited capacity indoors, the Archdiodese says churches that are able to should continue holding outdoor masses with social distancing and masks, because that’s the safest thing to do.
Health officials say worshippers should attend just one service a week. Singing, chanting, playing wind or brass instruments are allowed only if people are wearing face coverings and are 12 feet apart.
EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES
Grace Cathedral (virtual)
Service of the World, 8:30 a.m.
Eucharist Livestream Mass, 11 a.m.
Vesper Light, 6 p.m.
St. Ignatius Parish (virtual and in-person)
650 Parker Ave., S.F.
Outdoor Mass, USF Campus Lawn, 8 a.m. and noon, RSVP required
Livestream Mass, 10 a.m.
Communion Mass, Parker Avenue entrance, 11:15 a.m. RSVP