FLASHBACK 2019: Archbishop Jason Gordon welcomes parishioners to Palm Sunday service at the Our Lady of Perpetual on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, before the start of Mass.

[email protected]

The Roman Catholic Church has cancelled all Palm Sunday processions because of COVID-19 restrictions but the Presbyterian Church is still considering having processions within the precincts of their churches.

This as Christians across the country get ready to celebrate Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday (March 28) and ends on April 3.

Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan said baptisms and observances of the Holy Sacrament will go on as scheduled with 50 per cent attendance at the Presbyterian Churches. She said at the Susamachar Presbyterian Church in San Fernando, officials were considering a procession from Carib Street to the church with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, once permission is granted from the relevant authorities.

“So far, right now our services have been well attended during the Lenten period from Ash Wednesday. People have been excited to be out to church and of course, we are following all protocols with the 50 per cent capacity,” Abdul-Mohan said.

“For Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, we would normally have children do a procession with palm branches within the church. We are still deciding whether we will want to do that. If the children’s procession means we are going over the 50 per cent, we will reconsider this.”

She added, “We are going ahead with baptisms and confirmations. We will still have the sacraments with all health and safety protocols being observed. We will also have the Sacrament of the Holy Communion on Holy Thursday.”

Abdul-Mohan said sometimes, tents are placed in the churchyards to accommodate worshippers so that social distancing can be maintained at all times.

“People have been optimistic and encouraging. They want to worship and be in the church. Our elderly members who are unable to come to church are logged on to online services and our moments of inspiration which are on TV,” she added.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in San Fernando, said the annual Palm Sunday procession through Harris Promenade on Palm Sunday has been called off because of COVID-19 restrictions. She said the annual Good Friday skit held on the San Fernando Hill depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has also been cancelled.

The Roman Catholic Media Services also issued pastoral guidelines to parishioners omitting much of the usual celebrations associated with Holy Week.

For Palm Sunday, parishioners have been asked to secure green palm branches at home which will be blessed by Archbishop Jason Gordon. Chrism Mass was yet to be decided.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday will be streamed on TV and online but the annual washing of feet and procession to the Altar of Repose have been omitted from this year’s celebrations. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will also be streamed online and the annual kissing of the cross will be omitted. The Easter Vigil will also be streamed but the Lighting of the Fire and ‘baptismal liturgy’ are omitted.

The Catholic Media Services also said there will be only one celebration of the Sacred Tridium for this year while Stations of the Cross have been postponed.

Contacted yesterday, Bishop of the Anglican Church Rev Claude Berkley said he was very concerned about the growing number of cases of COVID-19 in T&T. He said his church will be monitoring developments and adjusting to suit.

“We don’t know how this virus moves and we should be in strict observance of all protocols,” Berkley said.

He said church membership has remained low since the lockdown.

“We are looking at international news and it appears that the third phase of the virus can very well be worse than the first two phases. People are very alert and we are doing what we can by virtual means,” he said.

He noted that despite the importance of Easter, his church will not go against the COVID protocols.

“Whatever we do will be within the framework of guidelines that we adopted from the Ministry of Health. We don’t seek to change anything. We are taking in the services via Facebook and TV. People have been making good use of this.”

He called on the citizenry to be careful and continue to protect themselves and each other.