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Easter Sunday marks the holiest days of the year for Christians across the state and around the world. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced gathering places, such as churches, to close their doors, observing Easter took a different form this year for many.
Connie Caron of Bangor has never missed an Easter Mass — or any Mass, for that matter — in her 95 years. The only exceptions have been for sickness. She didn’t intend to miss this year’s service either. She just had to watch it on her computer.
“It was with our local priest, and it was absolutely wonderful to be able to sit here and know that you couldn’t go to church because everything is closed, but that you could see your own parish and your own parish priest performing ceremonies,” Caron said Sunday afternoon. “It was beautiful.”
Caron belongs to St. John Catholic Church in Bangor, though she frequently attends St. Mary’s because it’s close to her home. Both churches are a part of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, which has been streaming Masses daily on its website and Facebook page, including this morning’s Easter Mass.
Many Maine churches simultaneously rang their bells at noon on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and to offer the community a shared experience after having to be apart during Holy Week due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.
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In Portland, Bishop Robert Deeley conducted Easter Mass via livestream from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which was empty.
“I had a text message from a friend wanting to wish me a happy Easter and telling me that it seemed very strange not to be able to attend services this year,” Deely said during the service. “It is strange, and it is unsettling. But it is what we have been asked to do, and it will hopefully get us through this crisis more quickly, so we do it.”
Caron said figuring out how to tune into the service on her computer was easy. She’s also been watching the daily Masses that her church streams. It’s not the same as being with other parishioners in person, but it’s still gratifying.
“When you can’t go out, to have [Mass] right before your eyes on the computer, I mean it was wonderful. It gives you a wonderful feeling,” Caron said. “This has been different, but gratifying.”
At 95 years old, Caron knows how important it is that she “stay put” during the pandemic as an older person who could be more vulnerable to complications from the coronavirus. But even when she can’t worship at her church in person, it’s her faith that is getting her through these difficult times.
“If you have faith, you have hope,” Caron said. “We will get through this somehow.”