Nearly one lakh Catholics in the city and some living abroad , attended the Holy Eucharist mass online, read out by Archbishop Thomas D’Souza fromArchbishop House on Park Street. The Archdiocese of Kolkata, which governs Roman Catholic churches in the city, called it an extraordinary measure taken to minimise chances of the spread of the novel coronavirus, which had forced different parishes not to hold individual mass, despite it being the fourth Sunday during Lent.
The 40-minute service was streamed live by the TV channel of the Archdiocese on YouTube from 8am on Sunday so that all parishioners could attend it from their homes. Initially, when Archbishop D’souza’s instructions went out that it would be unsafe to hold Sunday congregations, the community reportedly felt unhappy as they considered the mass during Lent an important religious activity. “We took this step so that all believers could stay at home and pray with the Archbishop as he read out the prayers, focussing on the troubled times and how to ask for grace to help us navigate it,” said vicar general Dominic Gomes. “For many, attending Sunday mass in church is an obligation, but that shouldn’t be the attitude.”
Reading out from Bible, the Archbishop advised people to believe that Jesus was the Shepherd who would lead people from the current crisis unto light and beyond. After the online service was over, congratulatory messages poured in from parishioners of 65 churches. “The online mass was soul-filling. This was so thoughtful of the Archbishop,” said Shipra Goswani, who attends St Patrick’s Church Dum Dum. The vicar general’s brothers, Joseph and Paul Gomes, who live in the US and the UK, attended the online mass with their families. “The service brought us close to Kolkata,” one of them said.
The Church of North India decided to keep all churches and services shut. Bishop Paritosh Canning had earlier suspended church services and with the developing situation, all the 45 member parishes, including St John’s Church and St Paul’s Cathedral, were shut.
Source: Times of India