Faith leaders offer alternatives to large religious gatherings: 'Better to be on the side of caution'

MILWAUKEE -- The pews are empty and the voices of only a few echo through Milwaukee's Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, but worshipers are not far. Good Friday Mass was offered online.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused faith leaders from all religions to offer alternatives to large gatherings -- including Easter Sunday, a sacred celebration for those of the Christian faith.

Father Tim Kitzke

"In terms of my congregation, stay at home, because we don't know," said Father Tim Kitzke. "This is still so unknown. I think it's better to be on the side of caution than to go out."

Gov. Tony Evers said drive-up Easter Sunday services are allowed under the Safer at Home order. Congregations can gather in parking lots, but must stay in their vehicles. Many churches plan to broadcast their services online or on television.

"Be more patient with each other be more kind, more gracious and grateful about life," Kitzke said.

Kitzke also said, given the circumstances, this truly is a time to think of others.

"Don't try to bend the rules, don't try to say 'well I can do this,'" he said. "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something."

Meanwhile, Brave Church -- a non-denominational Christian church -- is giving its members "Easter out of a box."

Pastor Jake Wirth

"Stay home, let's stop the spread," said Pastor Jake Wirth.

Blessed items and other Easter materials are ready for families to celebrate from home. Wirth encourages everyone to use this time to reflect.

"Let's come out of this different and changed and better because of it," he said.

On its website, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is offering free at-home guides for Holy Week. Families can download them and continue to practice their faith from home.