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Bay Area Rain Dampens Parishioners but Not Spirits at Outdoor Christmas Services

EL SOBRANTE (KPIX) -- Several outdoor church services around the Bay Area were canceled on Christmas because of the rain. Those that held services said the rain is another reminder that 2020 has been a year of challenges and adjustments.

At Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco, the service on Friday began with a temperature check. At Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, each household brought their own chairs and stayed within yellow squares spaced six feet apart. At Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, parishioners were encouraged to frequently sanitize their hands. All of those churches required social distancing and masks.

"Praying outside in the rain on Christmas ... that's a whole new way of praying for us," said parishioner Deborah Tatto, who's been with Newman Hall for more than 30 years. Even though the church live-streams all of its services, she said online is not the same.

"(Being here in person) gave me the opportunity to really connect to see my friends -- I mean at a distance of course," Tatto said.

Many people said that praying in the rain was a reflection of the kind of year 2020 has been: a lot of challenges, surprises and constant adjustments.

"To work around any obstacle, overcome any problem or situation or whatever," said Newman Hall parishioner Mark Dicenzo. "I think the rain is certainly not going to discourage anyone from coming out today."

Father Steven Bell of Newman Hall said part of his Christmas Day message included guidance on how to improve physical and spiritual health.

"The faith community is a place where people go to find sanctuary, to really be encouraged so we provide hope -- to provide a way out, to provide a light in the darkness," Father Bell said.

Several parishioners said that, in a year where there's been a lot of death and destruction, they found warmth and comfort at their church even if the services were held in the rain.

"I live by myself, you know, I don't have family with me or children and so there are occasions when I find myself kind of struggling and feeling kind of down," Tatto said. "These times of coming together in prayer are really important to me because it just reminds me that, you know, I'm not going through this alone."

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