, 25 March, 2020 / 6:35 AM
The practice of live streaming private celebrations of the Holy Eucharist by members of the clergy in the West African nation of Ghana is gaining traction days after Church leaders announced the suspension of public Mass.
The prohibition of public Mass followed the March 24 declaration by the country’s President Nana Akufo-Addo to ban all social gatherings as one of the measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In the Archdiocese of Accra, Archbishop John Kwofie’s private celebration of Mass was streamed on Crystal TV, a private television Station, and on Facebook, an event followed by 16,000 viewers, according to information from the Archdiocesan Communications team.
A number of Parishes also did live streaming of Mass on Facebook and YouTube by their respective Priests on Sunday, March 22.
In the hour-long Mass, the Archbishop of Accra read his March 19 Pastoral Letter, which assured the faithful that the Church cannot abandon them in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your Church fully accompanies you in these times,” Archbishop Kwofie said and added, “COVID-19 has made these times strange and abnormal; we therefore cannot go about our daily engagement as if times are normal.”
Following the live broadcast, Christians have shared their views on social media on its advantages and what can be done to improve it.
“The live streaming is good but one needs data to watch on platforms. Therefore, many families will not be able to participate in the Mass,” Emmanuel Vorgbe, a retired journalist, said via WhatsApp.
He suggested that “the individual parish priests encourage families to gather to watch the Mass by their respective Bishops on designated TV stations.”
For the Director of Communications at Sekondi- Takoradi Diocese, Fr. Emmanuel Dolphyne, “There is a tremendous difference between participating in Mass broadcast on television or seen on the Internet and actually being present at the Liturgy.”
According to him, “although in watching a live or recorded transmission of Mass we certainly hear God's Word and are inspired to pray and be aware of the Lord's presence in His Body, the Church, nothing can replace being in the midst of Christ in the worshiping assembly and receiving the Lord's precious Body and Blood.”
He noted that the television-transmitted liturgy or any gathering for worship for that matter serves a great purpose. Especially for those who are prevented from physically participating at Mass, this kind of presentation keeps them connected and nourishes their faith.
“Even for those who choose not to practice their faith or who are not themselves Catholic, the Mass on television or the Internet is both catechetical and pastorally effective for the purpose of healing and drawing individuals to Christ Jesus,” Fr. Dolphyne added.
Different Parishes in the country have announced live streaming of Daily Masses on Crystal TV Plus and Facebook.
In a message from the communication Office of the Accra Archdiocese seen by ACI Africa, “starting tomorrow, the Archdiocese will telecast daily Masses every morning at 6:30 a.m. live on TV for all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Accra. The TV channel to watch is Crystal TV Plus. For those who cannot join the morning Masses, you can watch the rebroadcast at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. every day.”
“The morning Masses will also be streamed live on Facebook at 6:30 a.m. for those who want to watch online on this link: www.facebook.com/radioangelusghana. Don't miss this unique opportunity offered to Catholics to have daily live Masses in the homes etc. You also have the opportunity to receive Spiritual Communion,” the message reads further.
Meanwhile, other churches in the country have also turned to social media broadcast for their Sunday services.
“We were not able to have our normal service as we used to do because of the situation we all know. So, we had a live streaming of our service for the day. We used about 45 minutes for our members to listen at their various homes,” the Superintendent Minister of Bethany Methodist Church, Edward Ofori-Donkor said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa