First Outdoor Mass at St. Patrick Church, Redding

REDDING – The St. Patrick Church parking lot, filled with 50 chairs, was a welcome sight to congregants attending the first outdoor mass at the parish.

“Welcome! It’s so good to see all of you,” Rev. Joseph Cervero M.Div, exuberantly greeted parishioners at the beginning of mass to which they responded in kind with a round of applause.

The mass is one of many being held throughout the Bridgeport Diocese to offer Catholics an opportunity to receive the Eucharist.

Parishioners were appreciative of the opportunity to attend mass in-person instead of the alternative of watching a live-stream of it in their homes, which most have been doing since March.

“I’m grateful to come back to church,” said Diane Riccelli, one of the many parishioners attending the outdoor mass. “Things that you took for granted before you really appreciate now.”

The altar for the outdoor mass, which was situated in front of the two-car garage at the rectory with a statue of Mary flanked by potted plants, was the original altar from the 1879 church that is currently undergoing renovations. “It represents the presence of our parish from the very beginning,” Father Cervero told the congregation.

Father Cervero said prayer is the answer to fear and uncertainty, “When we are feeling uncertain or anxious go to God in prayer.”

Prayers were specifically offered for all those affected by the Coronavirus that they may find comfort and healing.

“We needed that,” Al Garavito said as he and his young family were leaving mass.

“It’s time to come to church to see something positive,” his wife Danielle, added. She and her husband are both paramedics and they said the community church service was a respite from their daily work lives.

The chairs at the service were spaced six feet apart to adhere to social distancing, although families could cluster the chairs to sit closer together during the service.

“It was very nice to be able to participate in mass,” Danielle Garavito said. “It’s still important to come together as a town.”

The brilliant morning sun and calm breezes punctuated the service as the sounds of chirping birds accompanied the musical ministry.

“It was so good to see them (the parishioners),” Father Cervero said, adding that many people told him they were overjoyed to be able to receive the Eucharist. “Together as a community, is the best way to get through all of this. Let us return to prayer always; on this journey we are never alone.”