In addition to the great financial pressures facing the Church which are forecast to have an impact on this year’s pastoral work and social calendar, parishes are once again enforcing strict measures to protect the congregation from the spread of Covid. A TVM crew went to Qormi this morning to find out how the Parish is observing measures in connection with the pandemic while at the same time carrying out its pastoral mission within the Qormi community.
As a result of the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus in Malta, churches have seen a drastic decrease in parishioners in the last 5 months. Aware that the spread of the virus is still with us, and in view of the recent increase in cases, the Curia has called on anyone attending mass to wear a mask or visor and maintain social distance.
On a day when the Church would normally be crowded with people pre Covid-19, the sacristan of St. Sebastian’s parish, Renald Fenech, explained that the congregation had declined substantially while security measures had been increased.
“We have again taken stricter measures such as checking people’s temperature at the door, offering sanitizers, maintaining social distance and restricting the amount of people entering. We have reduced the number of people seated – from 850 people down to 150. Same goes for confession: we utilized the sacrament chapel with a protective screen between the priest and the confessant to keep a safe distance. ”
The parishioners we spoke to all agreed they feel safe attending the Church and also feel the need to visit God’s house despite the pandemic.
Parish Priest Fr Eucharist Zammit, told TVM that the Church was doing everything to follow the recommendations of the health authorities in order that everyone who attends feels safe. TVM asked Fr Zammit how the sacraments were being celebrated, including baptism, confirmation, and weddings.
“They have continued as usual basis. But there are always restrictions and precautions which we take while also respecting not only the dignity of the sacrament, but also the occasion, i.e. being practical and at the same time maintaining the measures that everything needs to be done in a safe environment. ”
Although the Churches have reopened and are taking precautions, the same cannot be said for the feasts. This is because Covid shattered the plans of enthusiasts to such an extent that instead of the traditional celebrations many found a new way to still commemorate the feast of their patron saint.
Meanwhile, where normally the streets of Ħamrun are full of people for the feast of St. Cajetan, the band clubs of Ħamrun chose to contribute part of the money they would usually spend on the feast, to the Dar tal-Providenza. St. Cajetan’s and St. Joseph’s Music Society, by agreement, have chosen to contribute an equal share of the money they usually spend on the feast to this good cause.