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Milwaukee city, faith leaders asks community to celebrate religious holidays safely

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- For many religions, this would be a big week to come together and celebrate but Governor Tony Evers’ safer at home order has put a damper on that.

City leaders, including religious, held a virtual press conference Friday, April 10, to address concerns for those following their faith and traditions.

Four out of the world’s five major religions are celebrating religious holidays this month. Leaders say it’s possible, but we just have to be creative in finding new ways to worship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand how important faith is, and how important it is in peoples' lives,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

April will be difficult for those celebrating Passover, Holy Week, Vaisakhi, and Ramadan. Instead of gathering in prayer, because of COVID-19, Governor Evers’ safer at home order has followers finding new ways to do it.

“Right now we’re calling on everyone to be a leader and it's empowering because everyone is doing their part,” said Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

Local places of worship have adapted using drive-thru services and streaming virtual masses online. Faith leaders say this time is a practice-and prayer in patience.

“For anyone who knows, you can’t have the positive sometimes without the negative,” said Father Timothy Kitzke from Three Holy Women Catholic Parish. “And so I’m praying that we can suffer through this together.”

Community is a central theme in religion, and now more than ever is a time to turn to our faith.

They say as we’re kept apart, we can come together.

“This is a weekend for many of us that represents sacrifice,” said City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik. “So what we’re doing as a community, as a state, in many parts of the country is sacrificing what we are accustomed to doing and what we normally like to do, and what we’re comfortable with for the future.”

City and faith leaders say social distancing does not require spiritual distancing.

They don’t want to stand in the way of the celebrations; they just want people to find ways to do it safely.

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