District Churches hoping for in-person Easter services

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

After two years without in-person Easter services many churches across the Rainy River District are happy to be hosting congregants in their seats for services this Holy Week. Though Mother Nature may also have something to say about that.

Many churches in Fort Frances and surrounding areas have been able to meet in person for a while now, but this week will mark one of the first major Christian holidays celebrated with few to no restrictions in place. Though some congregations are keeping masking in place in hopes of limiting continued spread of COVID.

Rev. Frances Flook leads three United Church congregations across the District including Guthrie United in Devlin, Knox United in Emo and Knox United Church in Rainy River. She splits time among all three congregations, Rev. Flook says it’s been nice to be able to sing for the first time in a long time.

“In a couple of my congregations we are still masking for worship,” Rev. Flook said. “But we started the church choir up again, we’re trying to sing safely. Because I think that was the hardest thing.”

Rev. Flook says that the singing is one of the biggest reasons people come out to services.

She added that early in the pandemic, in the fall of 2020, the churches reopened to in-person worship but had recorded music and couldn’t sing.

“Let’s be honest, I think that’s what people connect with most, in a worship service,” Flook said. “I’d like to think it’s the sermon but it’s the music. But there’s just something about singing and singing together.”

At St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church Father Gino Mathias is also pleased to have people back in services. He says that some people are still a little wary of the risks of COVID as well.

“Though masks are optional, the majority of people are wearing masks,” Rev. Mathias said. “It’s nice to see them all wearing them and being safe.”

Rev. Mathias also says that those who do not feel that it is safe can also access a variety of masses from all over the world online.

He added that attendance has come back pretty strongly, seeing around 100 people on Sundays for mass.

Both Rev. Flook and Rev. Mathias say that they’re a little unsure about the effect the impending weather could have on their Holy Week services but hope that they will still be able to go ahead. Assuming the weather is cooperative, Flook will conduct services in each of the three church buildings over the course of Easter weekend starting with Maundy Thursday in Devlin at 7:00 p.m. Good Friday in Emo at 10:00 a.m. and then Easter Sunday in Rainy River at 11:15 a.m.

At St. Mary’s There will also be a Thursday service at 7:00 p.m. a Good Friday Service at 3:00 p.m. Stations of the Cross at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes in Couchiching. There will also be an Easter Vigil on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Easter Sunday services will be at 9:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes and 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s.