By: Fr. Jesse Montes, SDB
Corpus Christi Parish, San Francisco
San Francisco has the most stringent constraints on religious gatherings of any other city in the United States. If someone wants to pray in any church, only one person at time can enter. There can be no ceremony in the church. Services can be held outside (parking lot, plaza, courtyard, etc.) but with only twenty-five participants. And yet, large megastores can admit hundreds of customers. People are allowed to eat outdoors on restaurant patios with no set capacity limits.
Last Sunday (September 20, 2020) several hundred Catholics gathered Sunday morning in front of the San Francisco City Hall for a “Free the Mass” demonstration and march. It was a call to San Francisco’s public officials to reopen churches for worship at a level consistent with other activities in the city. From there San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone led the procession to the Cathedral. It was one of the largest religious gatherings in the region in months. Streets were closed and the city police offered excellent security.
Corpus Christi participated with fourteen designated parishioners, including Jose López and Gina Battad, Salesian Cooperator candidates. Other Corpus parishioners joined varied participating groups. Fr. Jesse Montes, SDB, joined the group. He had presided at two previous Sunday celebrations at the Cathedral. At those celebrations there had been about 300 worshippers. But last Sunday there were 20 altars with 50 participants each. There were many more who were left standing outside on the sidewalks to comply with safety regulations.