Ghana like all other countries in the world is battling with the corona virus disease which spread is growing steadily since the first case was reported on March 12th this year.
With regard to religion, over 90% of the Country’s population professes faith in God, making the country highly religious. The central organization pattern of these religions is group worship which was temporarily put on hold due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The most dramatic result has been the exceedingly quick shift of religious services from in-person to virtual, online worship, a concept that has made Christians a bit relaxed in practising their faith even after the restrictions on church or religious gathering has been lifted. Some religious denominations have issued directives for their place of worship to remain closed until effective solutions are found to curtail the spread of the virus.
The Catholic Church in Ghana specifically Accra has experienced or seen a slow return of parishioners to Mass since its resumption. A survey conducted has revealed that, attendance was poor during the first four Sundays in most parishes as a result of the restrictions that come with the virus outbreak.
Speaking to the Parish Priest of St. Anthony Catholic Church, Fishpond, Very Rev. Fr. Raymond Osei Tutu in an interview, he lamented on how Ghanaians are comfortable in being in queues to acquire a voter’s identification card but are rather afraid to be in the house of God. Attendance at his Parish he said has been encouraging and even plans to expand the Masses. Again, he felt most parishioners are holding on to the directives of other churches that is; suspending church activities temporarily leading them to abandon their catholic teachings and forgetting how disciplined the Catholic Church is in her organizations. He further advised parishioners who cannot make it for Holy Mass on Sundays to find time to visit the Blessed Sacrament.
Other priests shared in the same sentiments attributing challenges to the age limit and not granting opportunities to parents with children to attend Mass making it difficult to draw the youth to church. They are therefore assuring Catholics that the Church is a safe place to be during this pandemic and all the protocols are duly observed.
On his part, Very Rev Fr. Edmund Donkor – Baine, Parish Priest of Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Kwashieman shared feedback from some parishioners who feel reluctant to come to church. According to him, some parishioners have become comfortable with the televised Masses which they find enough in building their faith with God in this era. “I could also believe that the current pandemic has not been very fair to especially Christians at all, because it is bringing some sort of laxity among some church members and even for certain individuals, active church members who will hardly miss Mass, today are missing Masses with all sort of excuses”, he said. He admonished Catholics that it is in the church that we commune more and encounter God physically in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and should not fear coming to church to worship the Lord.
Always remember the Church is a safe place to be in these hard times, adhere to all measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus and you will never live in fear.