The Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio is advising Catholics in the area to prepare for Christmas Mass well ahead of time, WYTV.com reports. Since some of the largest Mass crowds occur on Christmas, many Catholics will likely be told there is no room in the church for them, due to capacity limits enforced as part of COVID-19 guidelines.
Religious services are exempt from most COVID-19 guidelines in Ohio, but churchgoers are still required to wear masks, states the Ohio Department of Public Health.
Monsignor John Zurow, chancellor of Youngstown Diocese and director of the permanent diaconate, said many Catholics will face with the same situation Jesus, Mary and Joseph faced, when they were told, “There is no room in the inn.”
Father Zurow said the diocese is trying to make the faithful aware of the difficulty the pandemic will cause come Christmas.
The Bishops of Ohio still exempt Catholics from attending Mass in person, but are trying to find ways safely to accommodate the faithful who desire to come to church.
Father Zurow encouraged Catholics to have patience, flexibility, and understanding when dealing with plans at the holiday.
This advice comes shortly after Pope Francis named Reverend David J. Bonnar of the Diocese of Pittsburgh as the sixth Bishop of Youngstown. He will be installed January 12, 2021.