Local churches begin to reopen doors to community with new guidelines

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This is the moment Mary Wallace has been waiting for months to experience.

It's been nearly 80 days since she's stepped foot inside The Shrine of St. Therese Catholic Church in central Fresno.

"Glorious, glorious, absolutely glorious," she said.

It's also been a long time coming for Conrad Rodriguez and his wife, Celia.

They've longed for the sense of peace and community that comes with in-person mass.

"This is the feeling I get right here coming back in," Conrad said as he motioned to his heart beating. "It is exciting. It's just great to be back."

The worship remains the same, but procedures have been drastically adjusted to comply with CDC guidelines.

Parishioners need a reservation in order to participate, and only 100 people are allowed inside.

Churchgoers must wear a mask at all times and need to answer questions regarding their health before they're seated.

They're then escorted to their pew where groups must sit on opposite ends.

"We have a large elderly population, including their priest, who is well over 65 years old, says Rev. Raymond Dreiling. "My goal and my desire is to protect them."

Each mass has been condensed to limit the amount of time people are inside. The way churchgoers receive communion has also changed.

People will be asked to maintain their distance while they wait in line.

"We have chosen to distribute communion at the end of mass rather than at the traditional time," Rev. Dreiling said.

Instead of having their usual four masses, they've now expanded to six each Saturday and Sunday to accommodate their members with the changes in place.

To attend, people need to call the church and reserve their spot.
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