There’s no place like home

I did something on June 7 I haven’t done in a long time. Almost three months, in fact. I went to church.

With Allegheny County entering the “Green Phase” June 5, churches in Archeparchy of Pittsburgh have begun reopening their doors to faithful.

It was nice to be back at St. Gregory in Upper St. Clair, Pa., or in our “home,” as Father Valerian described it during his homily.

“And I will continue with this greeting (‘welcome home’) until we all come back to worship here, in your home, as children of God,” he said, My mom, Dorothy Mayernik, took the temperatures of people entering the church using a non-contact thermometer and Purell was offered to ensure clean hands.

Faithful sat six feet away from each other and everyone wore masks. I thought it was certainly a more than safe environment.

For the first time, I sat in the chapel in the back of the church, near the “command center” of computer monitors which displays the Livestream of the Liturgy on

I was worried I would need to pull up my mask from over my mouth to take a good breath and I didn’t want to be anywhere close to anyone.

Following the Liturgy, Father Valerian Michlik greeted parishioners outside in front of the church instead of in his customary spot in the vestibule.

There were lots of “good to see you!” and “I’ve missed seeing you!” comments exchanged among the people.

All the changes and precautions at St. Gregory, prompted Father Val to ask me how it felt to be back.

I promptly said it was happy to return.

But after considering the question, I thought about it: What is church to me?

Well, it’s a gathering of faithful coming together to praise and to worship God.
praise and worship God.

“Yes, here you are at home because you are in God’s house. And we, together, are his church,” Father Valerian said.

“As we know from previous homilies, the meaning of that word ‘church’…means what? ‘Assembly of God’s holy

In uncertain times — such as during a global pandemic — our faith can certainly be nourished at home through a Livestream broadcast of the Divine Liturgy.

But there’s something about being around people that makes it more joyful.
Even an introvert like myself can admit that.

I’ve missed being around people, whether cheering together for a Pittsburgh Penguins playoff victory or watching the most recent Marvel Studios production in a movie theater.

But I’ve especially missed it at church Because it is home.