TAMPA — Tampa houses of worship say they experienced a revival in attendance on this Easter Sunday.
Looking back on the first major Holiday to be somewhat canceled because of the pandemic, leaders say this Easter also marked the rebirth of congregations.
"It was my first easter as a priest," said Rev. Ralph F. D'Elia III about last Easter. " It was sad to celebrate without the people and that's why this year its particularly joyful."
D'Elia, of the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, says the church will not only continue to follow COVID guidelines, but will continue to adjust to meet the needs of parishioners who cannot attend in person. It's one of the takeaways of the prolonged pandemic.
"The live stream masses are here to stay," he added.
Besides Christmas, Easter usually draws some of the largest crowds into houses of faith. D'Elia says he anticipates church attendance will continue to grow as more people become vaccinated.
In Tampa, Angie Dunson and her family say they are not quite ready to attend church in person, but connect virtually every Sunday.
"I can still praise God from the comfort of my home and be safe," said Dunson. "This pandemic has tested everyone's faith. It's a lot to deal with especially, everyone who has been affected by COVID-19. My heart goes out to them."
It's an unfortunate illness shared by all walks of life, ages, races and faiths, all hoping that it will soon come to an end.