Holy Week, Easter liturgies may look a little different, including at cathedral

This image of the Crucifixion is from St. Vincent's Cemetery on LaSalle's north side. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, March 28. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

While it was not possible to celebrate Holy Week and Easter in church last year, when COVID-19 had just been declared a worldwide pandemic, parishes around the Diocese of Peoria are preparing to come together now as Holy Week begins. At St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, some of those liturgies will look a little different.

Phil Lee, director of the diocese’s Office of Divine Worship, said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has asked that the rituals during these special days be as “COVID conscious” as possible. So on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, March 28, there will be a very simple procession with palms at both Masses — 10:30 a.m. in English and 12:15 p.m. in Spanish.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has asked that the rituals during these special days be as “COVID conscious” as possible.

Current COVID-19 guidelines still limit seating to 25 percent of church capacity, which is about 300 people at St. Mary’s Cathedral. To maintain that, the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30, at 1 p.m. will be for priests and invited representatives of the religious and diaconate only.

“Sadly we can’t accommodate everyone as we have in the past,” Lee said, noting that this and all liturgies during Holy Week and on Easter will be livestreamed. (Visit cdop.org/livestream)


Aware that cathedral parishioners include the Hispanic community as well as the English community, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 1, will be bilingual. It will begin at 7:15 p.m.

“The readings, as well as the homily, will be in English and Spanish,” Lee told The Catholic Post. “The opening and closing prayers will be in Spanish and the Liturgy of the Eucharist will be said in English. There will be a live Spanish translation.”

Because Holy Thursday is one of the largest liturgies celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral, there will be overflow seating with livestreaming and Communion at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center, he said. People should still come to the cathedral first and will be directed to the pastoral center as needed.

Lee explained that as this liturgy ends, there will be a simplified procession as the Blessed Sacrament is taken to the altar of repose. Adoration will continue until midnight in the main body of the church.

The pilgrimage to area parishes that has traditionally followed the liturgy will not take place this year, Lee said.

On Good Friday, April 2, the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion will be at 3 p.m. in English. The Hispanic community will have live Stations of the Cross at 5 p.m., followed by the liturgy in Spanish.


To accommodate both communities on Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s Cathedral will be in English at 8:15 p.m., with Bishop Louis Tylka presiding, Lee said. Father Julio Faes, parochial vicar, will celebrate the Easter Vigil in Spanish at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 103 S. Richard Pryor Place.

The Easter sacraments of baptism and confirmation will be administered as usual, with two slight adaptations for COVID-19, according to Lee.

For baptisms, water will be blessed and fresh water will be poured for each baptism, he said. Cotton swabs have been used to anoint those who are being baptized and confirmed and that practice will continue.

“That hasn’t changed and I don’t foresee that changing soon,” Lee told The Post.

On Easter Sunday, the regular schedule will be followed, with Mass in English at 10:30 a.m. and Mass in Spanish at 12:15 p.m.

“This is essentially the same Holy Week and Easter liturgies that people know, but kind of following the COVID guidelines as far as spacing and restrictions and seating and attendance,” Lee said. “That’s the only thing that has been limited this year for Holy Week.”

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