FARGO — As soon as the first hymn started, members of St. Mary's Cathedral felt a welcoming rush.
"The church looked even more beautiful than I remembered it," said Dan Gilroy, who's gone to the church for about a year and a half.
About 40 people made it out to the church's first Sunday Mass after the Diocese of Fargo reopened all churches statewide on Monday, May 4.
Not only was it a relief for members, but it was also a relief for John Folda, the bishop of the diocese.
"I have to tell you, I know many watched my livestream over these past weeks, but preaching to an empty church is boring," he said during his homily.
Like all other big gathering spots, the church has many new guidelines.
All churchgoers have to wear a mask inside, and some pews are blocked off to keep the distance.
They're also not encouraged to sing along to hymns, because the coronavirus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, according to church officials.
"I caught myself having to close my mouth when the cantor was singing," said Aaron Laplante, who's been going to St. Mary's since he was born. "It was probably the hardest part of the entire Mass."
Some church members said despite the new guidelines, it still felt great to see old friends.
"(Sunday, we saw) people that we haven't seen in so long now, and it's just nice to be able to wave to them and see them, because it's not like you can get together," Gilroy said.
Although it may take some time to adapt, members said they're up to the challenge.
"I felt perfectly comfortable, and as things improve and we do it with more guidelines, I'll (keep feeling) perfectly comfortable," Laplante said.
With every Mass having a different message to spread, members said hearing it in person, and not on a screen, means a little bit more.
"Sometimes the message isn't as meaningful, but it's more meaningful now because it was taken away," Gilroy said. "You kind of recognize that's what you miss."
Although the Diocese of Fargo reopened its churches, most other types of churches, like Lutheran and Baptist, have decided to stay closed and keep streaming their services online.