MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Public Mass has resumed at churches in the Archdiocese of Miami with plenty of changes.

The Masses must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Congregants must wear facial masks and can only remove it for Holy Communion.

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In addition, nobody is allowed to hold hands during prayers.

Despite the safety protocols, parishioners are happy to be back.

“It’s been a couple of months, but I am very anxious to reach the door,” said one woman at the Church of the Little Flower.

She is one of dozens of worshipers who eagerly made her way back to church Wednesday.

“It feels great to come back to church.”

On March 18 Archbishop Thomas Wenski suspended all regularly scheduled celebration of Masses and other events at churches because of the coronavirus pandemic and since then their doors have been closed to parishioners until today.

“It’s all a great sense of joy being able to come back to church and being able to pray inside the house of God,” said Father Manny Alvarez.

Father Manny Alvarez, who celebrated Mass at The Church of the Little Flower Tuesday in Coral Gables says it was glorious morning despite having new rules and restrictions.

“It’s been two and half months since we celebrated Mass with our people and it was a great joy to have them here. Even though it was a limited number and were in face masks but better to see them with face masks than not to see them at all,” said Father Alvarez.

Other guidelines that must be followed include:

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▪ Hymnals, missalettes and holy water must be removed

▪ Pews and other common church areas must be sanitized between services

▪ Hand sanitizer must be placed at church entrances

▪ Parishioners are asked not to congregate after services

▪ Capacity must be limited to 25-30 percent

Regardless of the new rules and restrictions, worshipers are grateful to be celebrating Mass in person again.

“Everybody understands that we all have to take care of each other.  God does take care of us, we have to take care of one another, and it was just wonderful to have everyone back at church today,” said father Alvarez.

The Archdiocese of Miami encourages the elderly, those who are sick as well as their caregivers, to continue taking part in virtual Mass which they say they will continue streaming online for the foreseeable future.

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Marybel Rodriguez