Chaplain’s Office Navigates Covid-19 Protocols for Liturgical Services

Jocelyn Buggy ‘22

News Editor

Attending community worship represents a major part of the College of the Holy Cross experience for many students on the Hill.  Before COVID-19, hundreds of people would pack into St. Joseph’s Chapel each week to share in faith and fellowship.  Even those who did not attend Mass themselves could find comfort in the organ music echoing across the Fenwick path or the sight of students filing into the sanctuary wearing their Sunday best.  Like all other aspects of college life, however, the pandemic has transformed the way that worship services are currently able to take place.  While things may look different than previous semesters, the Chaplain’s Office has remained committed to safely celebrating a regular liturgical schedule since the start of the fall semester.  The return of students to campus at the beginning of February has presented unprecedented challenges to the Liturgical team, which they have met with innovation and grace.

Similar to the format of courses this semester, the Chaplain’s Office is offering a combination of in-person and virtual worship opportunities.  As has been the case in regular semesters, Mass will continue to be held in-person on Sundays at 11:30am and daily at noon.  Due to COVID restrictions related to the size of gatherings, the maximum capacity for these services is 72 worshippers.  The Liturgical team has worked to navigate such limits by adding additional Masses this semester, including a Sunday evening service at 7:00pm as well as weekday Masses at 9:00pm on Mondays through Thursdays.  While congregational singing is not permitted at this time, the Eucharist is fully celebrated with student lectors and musicians, and Communion is offered with stringent health protocols in place.  

Photo by Valentina Moran ’23.

Other in-person liturgical offerings include the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Mondays through Wednesdays at 8:00pm and Fridays at 11:30am, as well as the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Confessions on Thursdays at 7:00pm.  Students who are remote this semester or who are on campus but looking to worship virtually can access Sunday Mass online via live stream.  Additionally, Weekly Guided Examens occur on Zoom Thursdays at 9:00am.  The Interdenominational Community also uses Zoom for their weekly gatherings on Sunday afternoons at 4:30pm.

Laurence Rosania, Director of Liturgy and Music within the Chaplain’s Office, told The Spire: “It is a real joy and inspiration to see our students back in the Chapel, and to enable them to worship in-person, see and hear our Jesuit community preside and preach, experience live sacred music each week, and re-establish contact with their community.”  When asked about the Chaplain’s Office’s hopes for students worshipping this semester, Rosania said: “Our hope for those attending [both] in-person [and] virtually is [that] worship brings inspiration, hope, and encouragement in a time when we need it most. Our Ignatian spirituality calls us to seek and find God in all things, especially in these tough times of pandemic. Our worship services are a way to do just that, within a loving, prayerful, and supportive community. And very importantly, for our students who are not Catholic or not Christian, the Chapel is also your house of prayer and peace. The Chapel is open to all, every day, regardless of faith, and provides everyone at Holy Cross with a place apart for meditation, prayer, and quiet when the challenges of the day are great.”

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