With the lifting of restrictions on gatherings, parishes around Melbourne have begun to open and welcome parishioners for Masses around the city.
Restrictions on church gatherings have eased to enable 20 parishioners to attend Mass with strict social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance.
St Benedict’s in Burwood has been one parish to adapt quickly to new measures. Previously, they hosted drive-through and online Adoration, which was taken up by their local parishioners.
Now in June, St Benedict’s manages Mass attendances online using TryBooking, which functions as a first-come, first-served measure to ensure everyone in good health has a reasonable chance of attending Mass in person.
‘We opened the doors as soon as the restrictions were lifted,’ says parish priest Fr Dan Serratore.
‘We’ve used the Trybooking system for weekday and Sunday Masses, as well as Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration and it's worked really well.’
The parish website stipulates that there are limits placed on each family as to how many can attend each form of worship, with allowances for weekday Mass attendance at four times a week, Sunday Mass at once a month, Reconciliation at once a month and no limit on Eucharistic Adoration.
‘We just need to ensure that we have people ticking off names and cleaning chairs as there are obviously many in our parish who are unable to navigate the internet. We've encouraged them to call the office and we book for them.’
The parishioner response has been positive.
‘People have been very appreciative of our efforts,’ says Fr Dan, ‘and I’ve heard no complaints about the limit we have put on numbers of people.’
‘Regular communication with Parishioners has been really important. And I'm fortunate that we have three priests here, which has meant we have been able to offer more Masses and Reconciliation.’
St Patrick’s in Murrumbeena has also instigated a booking system for Mass.
Parish administrators have stayed in touch with parishioners via email and taken bookings for Mass each week via telephone.
Parish Administrator Fr Leenus Neetany says that despite a booking system, keen parishioners still try their luck in taking a seat at Mass, some occasionally being told that they cannot enter due to a full-house.
‘The first day we were taking in the maximum number, and certain days people have returned home because of maximum number,’ says Fr Leenus.
‘But somehow we have managed to take in most people who have signed up for Mass,’ he says.
Updates will continue over coming weeks as restrictions ease and parishes welcome back parishioners for Mass.