Arima resident Claudette Medina-Charles prays to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port-of-Spain earlier this month. Services during the Easter season will be affected by the disruption due to the continuing measures in place for the COVID-19 virus.

Easter is one of the most sentimental times on the Christian calendar. But this year, the pomp and ceremony which usually accompanies the occasion will have to be whittled down in order to adhere to the Stay-at-Home regulations implemented to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

So this year, the Catholic Church will not be staging much-anticipated events like the Palm Sunday service, washing of the feet, stations of the cross or even the Easter Sunday services.

“This is going to be a very different Easter for us, unprecedented in every single way,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said yesterday.

He said Easter was a time when all the crowds come out, Catholics and non-Catholics but explained that given the circumstances, measures have to be taken to follow the laws of the land to prevent the spread of the virus across the country. However, he said at the same time, the church will make every attempt to fulfil the spiritual needs of members of their congregations.

“This year, what we will have are the priests will be in their churches on their own and the Bishop will be doing mass on television,” Gordon said.

But it goes without question that not having a congregation present at the Easter services and the events leading up to it will have a financial impact on the collections of the church.

The archbishop explained that the Christmas and Easter collections are used to support the clergy in every aspect.

“So it’s going to be difficult not having the Easter collection to support the clergy,” he said, adding the church also takes up the responsibility of caring for the less fortunate in society with the majority of funds raised from collections.

Gordon said to combat this shortfall in revenue, the church is setting up a WePay account as well as online banking facilities and he is asking people to give generously via these options.

The Catholic Church isn’t the only religious body affected by the Easter situation.

Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley yesterday said his church is also expecting a decline in tithes and offerings, although the focus is getting its Easter message out to the public.

Berkley said the plan is to pre-record the sermon and try to have it broadcast on television or they may do a live streaming celebration on social media.

In terms of the bleak financial expectation, he said, “I think there will be a serious financial reduction but I think that some people would still try and meet their obligations and make a contribution to the church, especially at this time.”

He said trustees have already met and discussed ways in which people would be able to make donations without having to be physically present at any of the Anglican churches.

Since the COVID-19 regulations were instituted by the Government, the Catholic and Anglican churches have put an end to services and are opting to do more online streaming of services in an effort to keep people further from each other but still close to God.