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With Holy Days On The Horizon For Christians, Jews, And Muslims, COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Shifts In Worship

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Easter week, Ramadan, Passover; three major holidays, all either underway or on the horizon in April, but now people from all three faiths are having to adapt and worship in new ways.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas shows us how COVID-19 is changing the holy holidays.

At St. Columbanus Church on the South Side, the main message of Holy Week hasn't changed much.

"This Holy Week is a time of victory," said Fr. Matt O'Donnell "The victory is the gift of God's love."

But now the message is delivered through a webcast, so O'Donnell could not carry on the Catholic tradition of giving church members blessed palms the Sunday before Easter; not yet.

"I told people that the palms will be here for whenever we all get to gather again in the church," he said.

On Easter Sunday, they won't taste sacramental wine at communion. Instead, Father O'Donnell says they should say a prayer.

"Spiritual communion," he said.

This week also marks the start of Passover.

Rabbi Ari Hart had planned to lead a large sermon in person at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue, but plans change. He wound up delivering a pre-Passover message via video conference instead.

"We are a very tight-knit community, so that's very hard to not physically be together," he said.

The synagogue would typically host a large feast called a seder. This year they're delivering meals to more than 50 homes.

"We're offering seder to go," Hart said.

The Muslim community will celebrate Ramadan later this month.

"We're all being advised to observe our fasts at home. All pray together, at home," said Iftikhar Ahmad, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

He says large prayer gatherings are common during Ramadan after sunset, when Muslims can break their fasts.  He knows he'll at least still be praying and eating at the same time as his brothers and sisters in the Chicago area.

"There's some continued unity in that regard," he said.

Ahmad says some closed mosques across the country are opening their doors for blood drives, since they can't hold services. He says there are plans in the works for one of those blood drives in the Chicago area.

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