Religious Institutions Begin Re-Opening After COVID-19 Lockdown
Due to COVID-19 guidelines, many religious congregations had to be shut down. St. Louis county has opened up in phases allowing more people to gather in a space, so some institutions have gathered once again.
Sophia Marciano, junior, attends the Holy Infant Catholic Church. During the lockdown, her church held online Masses. Now, her Church offers in-person Masses.
Marciano said people have to make reservations to attend Mass, social distance from other families and wear masks. Online Mass is still streamed for the high-risk individuals.
“The Church teaches us that God is with us always, and I don’t think that it is right to endanger the health of others to attend places of worship,” Marciano said. “However, I think it has become safer now to meet being socially distanced.”
Along with Masses, the Holy Infant teen youth group was also shut down. Marciano said youth group is an outlet for her faith, and without it, keeping a life of faith was challenging as was maintaining good mental health.
“I think the most important thing to do right now is to show love and kindness to one another,” Marciano said, “This time is difficult for everyone.”
Hannah Nicholas, sophomore, is a Presbyterian Christian and attends the St. Louis Family Church.
During lockdown, her church had online services, but now offers in-person services. Her pastor suggests wearing masks, social distancing and practicing good hygiene. However, she wishes these rules were enforced rather than suggested.
“Although I do believe God will protect us, I also think we should be safe as a consideration to our bodies and others,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas said lockdown didn’t decrease her faith, but increased it. She allotted more time for personal study and prayer to maintain her faith. But, she did struggle to keep focus and attend online Sunday services every week.
Ayesha Kazmi, senior, is a Muslim and attends the Daar-Ul-Islam Mosque. Her mosque closed down which resulted in live-streamed sermons and at-home prayer.
Daar-Ul-Islam Mosque has re-opened, but there is a limit on the number of people allowed inside. While praying inside the mosque, everyone is socially distanced and wearing masks, Kazmi said.
“I feel this virus is a gift sent as a mercy from God because it has brought me closer to him and made my faith stronger than before,” Kazmi said.
Kazmi said she has transitioned into praying for others rather than herself during the pandemic. She noticed that during these times everyone needs to be working for each other rather than for themselves.
“Now I fully pray for other people and I make my intentions 100 percent clear with God that I am being genuine when I want to pray for full health and recovery for other people,” Kazmi said.
Aaron Alter, senior, attends Aish HaTorah, an Orthodox Jewish Temple, for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. His temple closed and has opened for small in-person gatherings such as Bible studies.
Aish HaTorah did not hold online celebrations during the COVID-19 lockdown as the Jewish faith emphasizes rituals as a community. Alter said that would be difficult in an online format.
Because of that, Alter’s family found a conservative Rabbi and watched those services over Zoom. They then discussed the contents of the service, as well as studied the book of Job from the Torah as a family.
“This pandemic has helped me a lot because it has brought me closer to God,” Alter said. “I need to appreciate Him and take time out of my day more to get to know Him.”