After being forced to significantly scale back Easter celebrations over the last two years, thousands of worshippers turn out to Palm Sunday services in churches across the country yesterday, beginning the Christian recognition of Holy Week.
It was the first time since restrictions were introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19 that congregants were able to come together in large numbers and celebrate mass during the most important part of the Christain calendar.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon led proceedings at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church in San Fernando and express his joy that worshippers were once again able to participate in the sacred activities this year.
The Palm Sunday mass saw a return of the procession which was held on the compound of the church, rather than through the streets as was previously done.
Speaking with reporters after the ceremony Gordon expressed his satisfaction.
“It’s been two years since we have not had this. So for two years we have been in partial-mode, semi-shut down or shut down mode. Now that we are kind of opening back we have to be very safe, still keep up all the protocols. But it is so great to see people back out and see people responding this way. It makes the prayer so much deeper and more profound when the people are coming out, engaging, you can hear the responses. That is really a tremendous blessing on this holy week,” said Gordon.
He said the washing of feet will also resume at most churches.
“It is up to the priest. Some priests have co-morbidities so we would not advise.”
However, he said they will exercise a lot of care in carrying out this ritual. “A fresh towel for every foot, no kissing of the foot, sanitising hands in between that washing. That is a big part of our Holy Week,” he explained. The Stations of the Cross will also resume on Good Friday.
During his sermon, the Archbishop said as they observe the Holy Week to not recollect but relieve the events.
“Put yourself in the scene, put yourself in the drama, put yourself in the drama and journey through this week. This is the most sacred week in the entire life of the church. Don’t get distracted this week with all kinds of foolishness. This is the week to be focussed on God and what God is doing for you and for me,” he encouraged. The church was packed to capacity but the mass was also carried live across social media platforms.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced in Parliament on Friday March 4, that among the restrictions that were being lifted, was the limits of the number of people allowed in churches, which was up until then, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
He later announced the lifting of all restrictions – except for the wearing of masks in public – with effect from April 4, allowing for the return of processions such as yesterday’s and for this week’s Easter celebrations.