‘New look’ Basilica in Lewiston readies for reopening amid safety restrictions

LEWISTON — On Monday, June 1, parishioners will enter the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul in Lewiston to participate in public Mass for the first time in 75 days.
“At least temporarily, it will not be like it was in mid-March when the doors closed,” said the Rev. Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, of which the Basilica is a part.
Last week, the Diocese of Portland announced that Maine churches could reopen for daily Masses on June 1, with the first weekend Masses to be held on June 6 and 7. As part of the announcement, a list of safety measures and restrictions were set in place.
“There are many requirements in place by the diocese to keep participants safe,” said Greenleaf. “At this time, only 50 people are allowed to attend, including myself and other Mass participants, the entire worship space will be sanitized after each Mass, and all parishioners must wear masks. I have organized a team to assist me in opening the Basilica. We are opening one church in Lewiston because then we can manage the sanitizing and cleaning after Mass. Hopefully by July, if all goes well, we will open all the churches in Lewiston.”
Seats and pews will be sanitized after each Mass and all knobs, door handles, bathrooms, altars, musical equipment, and touched surfaces will be cleaned.
But days before the doors officially reopen, the Basilica already has a plethora of new features, all meant to meet regulations and protect the parishioners upon their return. A worship space that can comfortably fit over 2,000 people can allow only 50 for now.
“To prepare, we have tape on the floor for social distancing and organizing Holy Communion, marked off pews that can and can’t be used, set up large screens for those on the side, and established a check-in area,” said Greenleaf.
Though the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is in place and the hundreds of live-streamed Masses being offered at Maine churches continue, Prince of Peace Parish certainly hasn’t struggled to fill the allotted seats.
“People have been signing up online throughout the month and we are now full for the four weekends of June,” said Greenleaf. “We still have weekday Masses open and encourage anyone who has not made a weekend Mass to join us on a weekday.”
Those who would like to attend Mass may reserve a seat or pew by visiting www.princeofpeace.me/reservation-for-masses. In addition, the reopening plans for Maine parishes are being posted at www.portlanddiocese.org/ReopeningChurches, and any changes to the current schedules of live-streamed Masses, parking lot Masses, drive-thru confessions, parking lot and live-streamed adoration, and other special events will be updated on the Diocese of Portland’s Coronavirus Response page (www.portlanddiocese.org/response-coronavirus).
“We’ve named it ‘Operation Come Back to Holy Communion,'” said Greenleaf. “It’s great to have the live-streamed Masses, parking lot Masses, and other offerings available for the faithful while also having the hopeful return of public Masses. Our faith community is certainly grateful.”