For many regular churchgoers, the sight of few and distanced individuals attending mass is now the new normal.
But before they can enter, they have to log their names and contact information and designated volunteers check on their temperatures.
Sanitizers or alcohols and foot baths are also in sight.
No dipping of fingers in the holy water for the signing of the cross.
Holy Communion is distributed only by hand with the priests and lay ministers wearing their mask and sanitizing their hands every now and then after the distribution.
No holding of hands during the singing of the “Our Father” while the sharing of the “peace be with you” is from a distance from one another.
Different parishes in the province also observe the maximum 50 percent capacity inside the church.
In La Union, one of the most frequented churches is the Our Lady of Namacpacan or the Saint Catherine de Alexandria Parish in Luna town because of its historical significance.
Top photo: The Saint Catherine de Alexandria Parish in Luna, La Union is one of the most popular churches in the province frequented by tourists and the religious. (Photo by Joanna Diaz-Sabado)
Inside the church is the miraculous image of the Our Lady of Namacpacan where the religious can go up the steps and offer a prayer.
Even on regular days, the church is frequent not only to the Catholics but to local tourists as well.
Another come on for the parishioners and tourists is the water well of the church, a source of healing water for the devotees.
Father Perpetuo Concepcion shares the new normal in the Saint Catherine de Alexandria Parish.
“There are two schedules. During the regular Sunday masses, three in the morning and one in the late afternoon while we also conduct three masses during Wednesdays,” the parish priest said.
He added, “Wednesdays is the market day here in Luna, at least we limit the going out of the parishioners, because they will go out only once a week for their essential needs and their regular mass.”
The parish has also imposed the no touching and kissing policy for the Our Lady of Namacpacan, the devotees are only allowed to pray in front of the shrine.
Catholic churches also continue to livestream their masses online through Facebook, urging the elderly and the sick persons to stay at home and still hear mass.
The Bombo Radyo station in the province also airs the Sunday mass of Saint Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Fernando City for their listeners.
“This is the time the people need to be nourished spiritually. The government, through our health care workers and frontliners, helps save lives and bodies from the COVID-19 but we also help save the souls of our dear brothers and sisters even during this time of pandemic,” Fr. Concepcion shares. (Joanna Diaz-Sabado, PIA La Union)