With just 10 worshippers being allowed inside Roman Catholic churches at a time and 25 in churches governed by the Church of North India, parish priests, who are primarily responsible for maintaining social distancing on the church premises, are linking up with parishioners on social media for smooth communication. Most parishes now have WhatsApp groups and pages on Facebook and Instagram for announcements, postings, views and requests.
The Archdiocese of Kolkata is going slow on increasing the number of worshippers inside churches from 10 to 22, but has asked parish priests to install e-alerts in the groups so that everyone knows how many are visiting that particular church at any given point of time. “These are difficult times and one is not able to physically be in touch with the others in the parish, so the groups formed by the priests are weaving the community together,” said Father Rodney of the Ignatius Church at Ekbalpore. The WhatsApp group formed by the priest of the church, Father Albert, is being effectively used also for Sunday classes.
While the CNI churches have not yet started corporate worship or mass by parish priests, the whatsapp groups are working to make sure that only 25 worshippers are present at a time in church. Each member of Union Chapel church on Lenin Sarani, for example, knows who is headed towards the church between 10am and 6pm. “They can even write in advance that they wish to visit the church at a particular time so that there is no overlap. The group is also keeping the priest informed about any parishioner falling ill,” said Father Pradip Nanda, priest of the church. From July, all CNI churches will start corporate worship and the social media groups will then publicise the mass timings.
“It’s a whole new system. Yes, we are unable to meet face to face, but there are video chats. It is helping us a lot,” said Angela Ghosh, a parishioner at St James Church.
Source:Times of India