Our Lady of Rosary Church in Khulna Diocese has installed a public address system to reach the faithful. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
Catholic villagers in Bangladesh can take part in daily prayers and Sunday Masses during the Covid lockdown via a public address system.
Almost 3,400 members of Our Lady of Rosary Church in Khulna Diocese in Jessore district can follow morning Mass, evening prayers and Sunday prayers from their homes thanks to the initiative taken by the parish.
The morning Mass and evening rosary are presided by the priest from inside the church but villagers participate from home. Sunday Mass is celebrated in the same manner but if someone wishes to receive the Eucharist, the priest stays in the church after Mass. Parishioners arrive separately to receive the Eucharist.
“Since our area is fully Christian, it has been easy to offer prayers through the PA system here. Only 20 attended the church on Sunday but villagers can join from home,” said parish priest Father Bablu Lawrence Sarker.
Each week the parish pays only 500 taka (US$6) for the sound equipment because their owner is also a Catholic.
The parishioners are happy about the initiative taken by the parish priest.
If we didn't take this initiative, we would be deprived of Mass and our children would spend this time on other things like watching TV and playing online games
In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, it is customary for mosques to use a PA system to cover entire villages. However, this is the first time that a Catholic parish has installed a PA system to cover the entire village for Christian prayers and Mass, parishioners claimed.
Mongla Biswas, 70, joins Mass and evening prayers every day from his home along with seven members of his family.
“Every day Masses are celebrated at 6.30 in the morning and the rosary at 6 in the evening. People can join them from home. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, people are not able to go to church. Even if someone does not fully participate in Mass and prayers, they at least make the sign of the cross,” Biswas told UCA News.
“If we didn't take this initiative, we would be deprived of Mass and our children would spend this time on other things like watching TV and playing online games. But as a result of this initiative, we are able to stay connected to Christ through prayer.”
Bishop James Romen Boiragi of Khulna, who is also chairman of social communications for Bangladesh's bishops’ conference, welcomed the initiative but said the participation of people in Masses via public broadcasts is not ideal.
“For a short time during the Covid-19 outbreak, we have been supporting this type of Mass from home, but this is not the right way to get people to participate. Moreover, this has only been possible because this is a Catholic area where there are no followers of other religions,” Bishop Boiragi told UCA News.