How has the pandemic affected your faith? What Chicagoans say.

Some are eager, if apprehensive, for a return to in-person services. Some say services online have been a lifeline. One woman says nothing’s changed: ‘I’m still an atheist.’

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As the sun rises over North Avenue Beach, Park Community Church parishioners gathered for a sunrise service.

As the sun rises over North Avenue Beach, Park Community Church parishioners gathered for a sunrise service. Chicagoans say their religious practices have evolved during the pandemic.

Shafkat Anowar / AP

With the coronavirus having pushed many religious services to be either online-only or with limited capacity, we asked readers how the pandemic has affected their faith. Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“It’s been hard not going to church. Watching on YouTube is not the same. However, my faith is my strength, and my Zoom small-group Bible studies have been a lifeline for my soul.” — Brenda G. Whitson Marquis

“At first, it was so hard. I honestly can only think of two times in all my 77 years that I’ve missed Mass. And I’ve taught religious ed. for 24 years, so I truly missed being there. However, emailing, texting, Zooming and good old-fashioned letter-writing have kept me in touch with my class and fellow parishioners. After being fully vaccinated, I was able to return on Palm Sunday. I feel blessed.” — Karen Klein Siciliano

“It has strengthened my faith. Watching Mass at home every Sunday has allowed me to break it down for my children and ensure they understand Mass, the Eucharist and the other components. And it has allowed me to watch Masses from Mexico, which I prefer.” — James Gonzalez

“I go to church every week. This past year, since they partially opened, I have been able to go once. I really miss going. Online is not the same.” — Carol Wortel

“My faith in God is intact, but my faith in humanity sure has suffered during this pandemic!” — Anna Casey

“I feel that the pandemic has stolen my right to practice my faith. The 20% capacity limits and the fact that they’ve caused the churches here in the city to establish a ‘reservation’ system have really made me feel like there’s very little hope at all for things ever getting back to normal!” — Mary B. Hopkins

“I’m Catholic. So is my grandmother. She feels the need to return to church since that’s what she’s done all her life. She thinks God is mad at her for not attending church on Sundays or other religious doings. I believe he’d understand if we weren’t attending till this is all back to normal. But what’s normal anymore?” — Tara K. Bilinski

“I consider myself a solidly devout Catholic, and having Mass on TV on Sunday morning has been very helpful. But I’m at the point now where I’d like to go back to my parish for Mass. However, with COVID cases rising again, I’m somewhat apprehensive.” — Mike Walsh

“It’s strengthened it because I co-chair outreach, and we have been working diligently to feed people in need. I also enjoy watching services on Facebook Live.” — Denise G. Cantrall

“Not at all. I’m still an atheist.” — Jennifer Malinowski

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