Some parishioners said they don’t want to miss Christmas services for the second year in a row.

By: KDKA-TV’s Erika Stanish

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Some local churches are still planning to gather for Christmas services despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.

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The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg said it will have Mass as usual, but is encouraging parishioners to wear masks while inside the church.

The diocese sent KDKA this statement:

“As the faithful of the Diocese of Greensburg prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord, we would like to remind parishioners to be mindful of COVID-19. Although it is not required, we strongly encourage everyone to consider wearing a mask at liturgies during the Christmas season. In addition, Priests, Deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must wear a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion. If you are feeling sick, we encourage you to stay home and participate in streaming liturgies. Bishop Larry J. Kulick will be celebrating Mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and that Mass will also be livestreamed on Facebook.”

Some parishioners who talked to KDKA said despite a rise in cases, they don’t want to miss Christmas services for the second year in a row.

“People wear the mask and you keep the distance, that’s fine with me, and if they had their shots,” parishioner John Mangini said.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon said it plans to have six services instead of three this year so it can practice social distancing.

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Father Noah Evans said the church is also setting a capacity limit for each service.

“We are we’re capping attendance at 150 people per service, which is just under 50% capacity for sanctuary,” Evans said.

Tickets are available online here.

Evans said more than 700 people are planning to attend in total. Everyone 2 years and older must wear a mask, Evans said.

“It helps create an environment where everyone’s comfortable and safe, and we’re able to gather in person as a parish to celebrate this important holiday where we mark the birth of our Savior,” Evans said.

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St. Paul’s and the Greensburg Diocese are also offering virtual services as an alternative option.