No processions, services as Christians mark Palm Sunday

Monday, April 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Rev Mary Maribie (right) of PCEA Murera Parish delivers a Palm Sunday sermon assisted by elder Samson Rieu. The service was followed by the faithful online. Photo/PD/ALEX MBURU

For the second Sunday in a row, Christians not only in Kenya but globally were forced to celebrate church services on television or online because of strict measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

And for the first time, Palm Sunday was yesterday observed in low-key, without the usual processional walks with palm.

At the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, Archbishop John Cardinal Njue and the chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Phillip Anyolo led a special mass where they urged Kenyans to adhere to the anti-virus guidelines such as observing social distancing and keeping high standards of hygiene.

“The church stands in solidarity with those already suffering, infected, affected and those in isolation, the church brings to you all a reassurance spiritual voice of hope for a better tomorrow,” said Archbishop Anyolo.

Papal mass

Anyolo also urged Kenyans to be united during this period saying it is through unity that the country would be able to defeat the pandemic.

The mass at Holy Family Basilica, which began at 9am was broadcast live on local television stations.

Only a few devotees, mainly clerics, were allowed into the church.

In Rome, Pope Francis celebrated the Palm Sunday mass without an audience as the traditional ceremony at St Peter’s Square was scrapped to curb the spread of coronavirus.

During the service, the Pope was accompanied by close aides, prelates and nuns. The service was streamed live from the Vatican on its official website.

“We will celebrate the Holy Week in a truly unusual way, which manifests and sums up the message of the Gospel, that of God’s boundless love. And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound,” said Pope Francis in his message.

For millions worldwide especially Catholics, Palm Sunday is a special day of ritual, prayer, and a song.

The fete marks the beginning of an important period in the Christian calendar, which culminates in Easter Sunday.

In the face of coronavirus pandemic, churches have come up with innovative ways of connecting with congregations.

Bishop Mark Kariuki of Deliverance Church has a Facebook page on which he has been sharing ways of staying safe.

“Fellow Kenyans don’t be reckless, follow what the government is telling you. We are going through a difficult period but I believe we will conquer,” he writes in one of his Facebook messages.

Bishop Samuel Ciuga of the Apostolic Faith Church also urged Kenyans to obey rules.

“It is good to rest at home than to Rest in Peace. It is also good to keep six feet social distance than six feet down the grave. Kindly let us comply for this season,” said Bishop Ciuga.

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