The Cathedral of St. John the Divine canceled in-person Christmas services on account of the Omicron variant, while St. Patrick’s Cathedral celebrated morning Mass as scheduled.
“Out of an abundance of caution, and following guidance from New York City and federal health experts, this year’s Christmas services will move online,” read a blog post on the website of the perpetually unfinished Morningside Heights cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
But on Fifth Ave., the 10:15 a.m. Christmas morning Mass at St. Patrick’s went on as usual.
“I’m originally from Atlanta. I came out here to visit my family for the holidays. I come from a very religious family. Christmas is huge for us, so attending today’s Mass was something on my holiday bucket list,” tourist Michael Benedict, 37, told The Post. “I was not worried about COVID at all. We’re just praying, right? I had on my mask, I was socially distanced.”
The later four Masses planned for the cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, are slated to go ahead as planned, as well.
“Of course, I’m worried about COVID, that’s why I didn’t come with my kids this year,” a native New York, who declined to identify herself, told The Post. “I usually attend with them, but the numbers are rising. It’s scary. I’m happy I came today though. It was needed. There’s a lot going on in the world.”
The Washington National Cathedral, headquarters of the Episcopal Church in the US, also canceled in-person services as the highly contagious Omicron variant has torn through Washington, D.C.
“These numbers cause me to reflect on the moral responsibility of this Cathedral during this difficult time,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, wrote in a note posted online. “As one of the largest churches in America, we routinely welcome more than 15,000 people to celebrate the Christmas holiday. However, given the spike in infections, I simply cannot justify gathering massive crowds as the public health situation worsens around us.”
Other Protestant churches in New York and across the nation canceled in-person holiday services as well, the AP reported.