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Parishioners Return To Indoor Service At Saint Robert's Catholic Church Following Supreme Court Ruling

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The highest court in the land is getting high praise from California places of worship. The Supreme Court ruled on Friday the state can't ban indoor church services.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento informed the congregation that churches who were able to reopen indoors safely and under the Supreme Court ruling and guidelines would be doing so.

On Sunday, Saint Robert's Catholic Church was one church that welcomed parishioners back indoors for the first Sunday since the ruling.

"It's going to be amazing to go back and be a part of a community again," Vincent Valine, a Saint Robert parishioner, said.

"It's exciting to get back into church again. And, I have to go in now and get myself a place to sit," Gloria Rainoldi, another Saint Robert's parishioner, said.

The ruling of the high court does allow California to limit capacity to 25% and still restrict singing and chanting as well.

On Saturday, the state's COVID website had updated the guidelines for houses of worship. Counties in the purple tier had the same guidelines as those in the red tier. Reopening indoors could happen at 25% capacity and other indoor modifications.

Prior to the ruling, indoor church services could only happen once a county was in the red tier of reopening. Services had to be either virtual or outdoors in the purple tier.

"Personally, I was very excited," Father Brian Atienza, Saint Robert's Catholic Church, said.

That excitement tempered with responsibility which includes spacing out people in pews with social distancing, sanitization and other measures to comply with the ruling and state guidelines for Saint Robert's.

"And, again, there's always that, in the back of my mind, the concerns for the health and safety of others," Atienza said.

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Capital Christian Center Pastor Rick Cole said this did ruling come as a surprise to him. But, they're waiting until next Sunday to welcome people back so they can get their house safely in order.

"So, with just one day to prepare, we thought it would be best to take time. Make sure we prepare to the room properly and the guidelines we put in place," Cole said.

Both Saint Robert's and Capital Christian Center will do live-streamed services for those not ready to come back inside just yet.

Saint Robert's also encouraged people to come to mass during the week if the weekend crowds are a concern to them.

There's a message that churches are hoping to drive home after the ruling. Being back indoors is a blessing, but no one can overlook coronavirus concerns and people need to stay vigilant.

"We need to keep that health and safety of others in mind. Not just for ourselves but that we keep in mind that we are doing it for those that are friends, our neighbors and our family," Atienza said.

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