Easter Sunday Mass in Las Cruces takes place in person and virtually

LAS CRUCES – Easter Sunday is upon us and while churches are allowed to operate at a limited capacity, guidelines have been issued by the New Mexico Department of Health and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces for the COVID-19 precaution.

Easter is a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday concludes the period of Lent which began on Ash Wednesday, February 17. Holy Week, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, involves the celebration of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, His Last Supper with the 12 Apostles, His Crucifixion, and His Resurrection.

Many often celebrate by dressing well, going to church, and enjoying a meal with family. Easter eggs are traditionally hidden for children to search for and collect.

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Last March, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted orders from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Health to shut down businesses and shelter at home. The churches were then closed and people had to watch virtual Easter services.

The county of Doña Ana is currently in the yellow level which allows places of worship to operate at no more than 33% of maximum enclosed space capacity. Mass gatherings are limited to 10 people or 80 vehicles maximum.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, priests are permitted to celebrate Holy Week entirely or in modified formats, but must maintain COVID safety practices. Diocese spokesman Christopher Velasquez said Masses in the parking lot will be held, but people are encouraged to contact individual parishes for Mass times.

Archbishop Peter Baldacchino will celebrate Holy Week liturgies at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Easter Sunday Mass at noon on Easter Sunday. The capacity of the church is 174 parishioners.

Live streams will be provided for those who cannot attend or choose not to. Catholics in the Diocese of Las Cruces are still exempt from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation.

Bishop Peter Baldacchino is hosting Good Friday services in the Immaculate Heart of Mary parking lot in Las Cruces on Friday, April 10, 2020.

“As we begin this Easter season, we remember the gift of his son Jesus Christ, who through his passion, death and resurrection opened heaven to us and enabled us to live in unity amid our diversity,” Baldacchino said. “May the fullness of divine life ignite our hearts to reach out to those who need it most. Diocese of Las Cruces, I wish everyone an Easter season filled with the grace and blessings of God.

The NMDOH released a statement this week encouraging people to avoid group gatherings and follow COVID-safe practices such as wearing masks and washing hands.

“Since March 2020, celebrating our holidays has forced us to make adjustments in order to protect ourselves and our fellow New Mexicans,” said NMDOH Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins. “For Christians celebrating Holy Week this year, we ask the same. Please stay home or gather only with your immediate family members. By making sacrifices now, we will end to this pandemic much sooner, and then we can resume our cherished traditions.”

A Stations of the Cross art installation by artist Scott Erickson is displayed outside the Morning Star United Methodist Church as an accessible alternative for people during Holy Week 2021.

way of the cross

The Morning Star United Methodist Church has installed an outdoor Stations of the Cross at its location next to Roadrunner Parkway.

Kathy Naegele-Delgado, a church administrator, said Catholics and Protestants traditionally recognize the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week.

Graphic art installation by artist Scott Erickson allows anyone to access stations without the hassle of gathering inside. The stations are in a contemporary street art style and are featured around the Morning Star Church building. They also carry the handle #stationsinthestreet.

A Stations of the Cross art installation by artist Scott Erickson is displayed outside the Morning Star United Methodist Church as an accessible alternative for people during Holy Week 2021.

Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, lromero@lcsun-news.com Where @rromero_leah on Twitter.

Alicia R. Rucker