HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – As Massachusetts conducts Phase 2A of reopening, Hanscom is likewise reopening limited services and facilities. One of those is the resumption of religious services held in the base chapel.
The Hanscom Chapel hosts Protestant and Catholic parishes. The parishioners consist of military members, civilian employees, and family members who live on base and in the surrounding communities.
There is also a prayer room available for use by request. It is open and available now, as long as worshippers adhere to the safety guidelines.
“Chapel attendance is not limited to people who live on base; anyone who has base access is welcome to attend,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Joseph Watson, installation chaplain.
A Catholic Mass was held, June 14. “This past Sunday was the first Mass since the lockdown,” said Capt. Shawn Taylor, protestant chaplain. “Monsignor William Cuddy led the Mass, and people were glad to be together again, albeit with masks and an abbreviated service.”
The first Protestant service is scheduled for Sunday, June 21, at 9 a.m. in the chapel annex. However, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, a number of safeguards have been put in place.
Parishioners will be provided hand sanitizer to use upon entering and must use face coverings. Parishioners (other than immediate family) will physically distance from one another in accordance with marked seating. Also, chaplains will shorten services in order to limit restroom use, and parishioners must depart when services conclude.
Also, the number of worshippers permitted in the building is limited for the time being.
“We're trying to avoid too many people showing up, which would violate the adjusted capacity and social distancing guidelines,” said Watson.
When social distancing first started and most facilities shut down, the chaplains began virtual religious service options March 15.
“The key to our virtual options is via the Hanscom chapel Facebook pages,” said Taylor.
Taylor uploads sermons to YouTube every week with links posted on the Protestant parish Facebook page. Chapel staff also post copies of the weekly homily and links to online resources from the Vatican and the local diocese on the Catholic parish Facebook page. The online options will continue to be available for any members who prefer to continue at-home worship.
Going forward, religious personnel will hold Protestant services on Sundays at 9 a.m. in the chapel annex and Catholic Mass on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. in the chapel’s sanctuary.
“The last time we had any Sunday services at the chapel before this past weekend was March 8,” said Taylor. “We will have both parishes meeting this coming Sunday.”
Catholic Parish Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/340876029451883/
Protestant Parish Page: https://www.facebook.com/HanscomChapel/
Hanscom Chapel Main Page: https://www.facebook.com/Hanscom-Air-Force-Base-Chapel-Community-160221954033129/