WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. - For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, a church in Whitefish Bay hosted Easter service Sunday, April 4.
"It’s almost like last year’s Lent just rolled through in a whole year-long process," said Pastor Paul Hartmann, St. Monica Parish & St. Eugene Parish.
(Pastor Paul Hartmann)
For the better part of a year, Hartmann has celebrated Mass via livestream.
"When we were in the lockdown and I would say to a camera, ‘The Lord be with you,' and no response," said Hartmann.
He said that silence was bitter at times, but Easter Sunday was different in 2021 with people in the pews and smiles behind their masks.
"It’s just great to be back," said John Schreiber. "It’s great for the community here in Whitefish Bay. You know, church and community is important for people."
It wasn't just the parishioners eager to get back into the building but also the volunteers.
"It is our way of reminding the congregation that we’re back, and we’re alive and we’re able to celebrate together as a community," said Anne Swoboda.
"Celebrating virtually just isn’t the same," said Hartmann. "You lose a little."
For the first time in a long while, Hartmann got a response from his parishioners.
"To hear the wave almost of sound when people say, 'And with your spirit,’ it really is a moving moment," said Hartmann.
He added that even with a gradual return to in-person service, they still have pandemic measures in place and their live-stream will continue for the foreseeable future.