Easter is right around the corner — but the coronavirus pandemic is affecting how Penn State students and community members will celebrate the holiday.
Penn State’s Easter celebration typically has a large turnout, according to Father Mathew Laffey, a Catholic priest at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.
This year, only 10 people can physically attend a mass, and they must remain masked and socially distanced. Most of the center’s operations have moved online.
Typically during mass, participants would sing together and participate in traditions like the washing of the feet, distributing palms and reading the Gospels.
This year, he said people celebrating Easter at home can stream the service, read the Gospels and reflect on the meaning of the day.
Penn State has also been streaming Sunday services from the center on WPSU.
Penn State Christian Student Foundation President Phillip Belga said without normal church services, he and other CSF members are “socially starved.”
Belga (senior-classics and ancient Mediterranean studies) said CSF is currently meeting virtually.
Laffey echoed this, saying he misses being able to connect with people at the center — especially through simple interactions like shaking hands or talking. He said he believes it’s important to be around others.
“We like to celebrate new life by Christ with each other,” Laffey said.
The center has also been holding two separate masses at the same time to alleviate crowding issues in the center. One mass is held downstairs, while the other is held upstairs, according to Laffey.
Not all students will be in State College for the holiday. Students like Kelsey Majeski and Dylan Cann plan to go home to be with family this weekend.
Majeski (junior-accounting) said Easter traditions are important in her family.
In a normal year, she said she and her family would wake up, go to church and then find Easter baskets her parents hid before playing a series of games. They end the night with a large family dinner.
“Easter has always been really important in my family since me and my siblings went to a Christian private school,” Majeski said.
This year, the Majeski family will host close to 10 family members instead of the usual 40, which Majeski said is a big change.
Cann (sophomore-computer science) said he will travel to be with his girlfriend’s family to watch a mass online.
Cann said Easter is a smaller holiday in his family. He said they mostly celebrate with a relatively smaller dinner and some games.
Regardless of original plans, Laffey, Majeski and Cann agreed this year’s Easter is going to be a unique and unprecedented one.