Houses of worship in WNY react to relaxed mask guidelines, encourage people to attend service in person

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BUFFALO,N.Y. (WIVB)–In less than two weeks members of the Roman Catholic Church will be obligated to return back to mass, now that mask restrictions are more relaxed and more people are vaccinated.

“We think it’s a really good time to bring people back and to invite them once again to recharge their faith and you know take what we’ve learned from the pandemic and bring it back to revitalize the church in new ways,” said Father Sean Paul Fleming, director of worship for the diocese.

He says now that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear a mask, it makes sense that it’s time to bring people together in-person again.

“We’re gathering everywhere else at table, whether it’s a restaurant or around our family tables at homes with more and more people, we should also be gathering around the table where we’re fed spiritually and nourished to do all of those other things that we do in life.”

At various houses of worship across Western New York, faith leaders say they’re noticing it’s a 50/50 split between who is comfortable not wearing a mask anymore.

“It’s really a mix,” said Alex Lazarus-Klein, who’s a Rabbi at Congregation Shir Shalom. “We have people who I don’t think are going to come back to indoor services for a long time, and we have people who are ready to go right now.”

“I think it was exciting and it was freeing in many senses,” said Terry King who’s the CEO of Saving Grace Ministries. “People have been waiting a long time to get to this place. I think it came with a hesitancy from people who have masked for so long, even those who have been vaccinated out of respect for their neighbor and others.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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