ONEIDA, Wis. (NBC 26) — When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, many Catholic parishes held services virtually or with enhanced Covid protocols.
"You just felt so isolated, so alone," Nancy Sobieck said. "And we're all part of the same group. But if you're not with the group, it's hard to feel part of the group."
Sobieck has been a member of St. Joseph in Oneida her whole life. She was among nearly 100 people who showed up to the Friday afternoon service.
"I love to see all my family members here, my community," she said. "Even though I don't know maybe their names, I know them because they're here worshiping God with us."
Good Friday is back in Northeast Wisconsin. And after two years amid a pandemic, many members of local congregations say they're excited to get back to normal this Easter weekend.
"Good Friday is the observance of our Lord's sacred passion and death on the cross," Father Paul Paider said.
It's his first time spending April at St. Joseph. And there's still a few differences from the pre-pandemic experience. His church isn't serving the communion wine yet.
"It's a positive thing that more and more people are coming back every weekend," Paider said. "I think there's a hungering for a sense of normalcy in people's lives and we're able to provide that."
And come Saturday, there will be no mass due to a priest shortage. There was supposed to be a substitute.
But Father Paider is still running a service at his sister parish.
"I think we are at a safe point," he said. "And I think it's a sense of simply embracing the present and moving on in the future."