The halls of city churches reverberated with prayers as Good Friday services were held in the afternoon. Church-goers attended in large numbers and efforts were made to socially distance them. Hindi and Bengali services were held in different halls of the church premise so that there is no crowding. Additionally, many churches arranged to webcast the services so that seniors could virtually join in. Many parishioners who live abroad now also joined in virtually to be part of the “home” services. Many described this as one positive that the pandemic has helped to bring in from last year.
Many started with the ritual Seven Churches Visitation since early morning. Dressed in black to signify mourning and sorrow, they moved from one church to another on foot (many were barefoot as tradition demands), making a round of the seven churches of their choice. Number seven signifies the seven holy sites related to Jesus’s arrest and trial.
Apart from the two main cathedrals of the city — Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary, the main church of the Catholics where Archbishop Thomas D’Souza was the main celebrant and the St Paul’s Cathedral, the main church of the Church of North India — other churches that saw a large turnout were St Thomas, Middleton Row, St Mary’s Ripon Street, Prabhu Jishu Girja, Wellington, St Anthony’s Chapel Market Street, Church of Christ the King in Park Circus, Sacred Heart Church in Dharamtalla, Church of our Lady of Vailankanni in Picnic Gardens, Union Chapel on Lenin Sarani and St Thomas Church on Free School Street. Bishop Paritosh Canning chose to move to smaller churches for the Good Friday service this year and read mass at St Thomas Church, Howrah and St Peter’s Church, Behala.
“I did my round of the seven churches and then watched the Passion service live from the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary where the Archbishop spoke,” said educator Janet Gasper Chowdhury. “I am engulfed with mixed feelings of sadness and hope. When the biblical passages are read out to relive the sufferings of Jesus, it is too overwhelming,” said Monica Vincent, another educator. “Jesus died taking in all the pain and suffering in his stride and still asked for forgiveness. Let us pray for such resilience,” said vicar general Dominic Gomes.
Source: Times of India