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Mike Tasos: One Father gently easing back into regular worship
Father Brian Higgins
Father Brian Higgins watches the new Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Dawsonville being built. -Photo courtesy of Father Rey

The streak is over!

All through this COVID craziness, bullets had been dodged. I was happy to do a Joe Frazier-like peek-a-boo style. Never had to throw a punch. Never took one.

Until this past Thursday.

Mike Tasos
I took pride in boasting I knew no one who had been bitten by the COVID cobra.  A co-worker was exposed after a weekend getaway, got tested this past week and the positive result was unsettling and upsetting.

A single mom, her “new normal” was toppled. Going back to work is in an indefinite holding pattern. Family and friends are now forced into 10-14 days of alone time.

Even with her being responsible, staying two yardsticks away from anyone, the virus shredded her defense. It sacked her. (Can you tell I’m eagerly awaiting college football?)

We continue to be flummoxed. There continues to be huge amounts of trepidation. We celebrated Memorial Day and figured we had all this in our rear-view mirror.

Instead, there is little consensus. I was lulled into thinking we had it licked.

The late Papa Kenny Cagle would have called COVID “a mean, tough bastid.” In a misplaced sense of triumph, I thought we had given the virus a good ol’ country butt-whippin.’ Oops.

Father Brian Higgins, the longtime pastor at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Dawsonville, knew what he was doing. While more than a smattering of houses of worship decided to go live, Higgins pumped the brakes.

He has a plan for his flock that encompasses gently easing back into regular worship. There will be limits on the number of attendees. The facility has a beautiful grotto where outdoor Masses will be conducted in the early, early morning. 

“The main goal is to keep everyone safe,” the 54-year-old Higgins said. 

A new twist is that there must be assurances that there are adequate cleaning supplies on hand. Each pastor can make decisions as to when to open. 

Not that there is a good time for a pandemic, but the parish is knee-deep in building a new church. It will be completed sometime this summer. 

It’s been a longtime project.

The parish members, many who are elderly, have galvanized, accepting the moratorium on services, anticipating being inside the new church. It’s like waiting for a late summer present.

And there have been some positive outcomes. Father Higgins, pre-COVID, minced no words in sharing his disdain for social media. These days, with daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary being streamed on the church Facebook page, Father Higgins now has a following.

“We have a worldwide audience,” he said, citing Catholics from England and Brazil have been checking in with him on Facebook.

The consistency of a weekend Mass for Catholics is something that provides solace. Go to any church in any country and Sunday Mass has the same content.

“The exact same readings around the world,” he points out. 

The pandemic has taught Higgins to have a new-found respect for the value of streaming Mass from the miniscule rectory where he resides.

The new church will seat 500 as compared to the current capacity of 225. And it ought to be something special. The furnishings will include a 100-year-old crucifix that was salvaged from a shuttered house of worship. 

It has indeed been a unique, unanticipated experience. It was an Easter season that required all to be patient, especially for Higgins who is celebrating 21 years of his priesthood. Like us, he is leading his flock while learning on the fly.

“They never taught us this in the seminary.”

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He’s confused and wonders: “Why do protesters loot pillage and plunder like pirates. Do they think it will get them one ounce of sympathy and understanding for their cause? He’d love to know. Comments can be sent to He is also on Facebook.