, 24 June, 2020 / 7:00 PM
A Priest in Lesotho has shared about the “unprecedented challenge” occasioned by COVID-19 preventive measures aimed at minimizing contagion.
In his sharing published by the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) Wednesday, June 24, Fr. Hosea Chale says that COVID-19 restrictions put in place have “presented an unprecedented challenge to the Church and society of Lesotho.”
“As a result of the lock-down and social distancing imposed by the state and welcomed by the church, livelihoods have been disturbed,” Fr. Hosea says.
“This has affected the missionary work of the Church which depends on the Church communities themselves,” the Priest says and adds that “the charity work of the Church, so important during this period, is terribly hampered as material resources are not as available as before.”
According to the Priest serving in Lesotho, the lockdown has also made it impossible for the faithful to partake of the sacraments and gather for other religious activities.
He writes, “The faithful have gone without the assistance of the sacraments for a while now nor have we seen any retreats or workshops and other gatherings.”
Lesotho has recorded 17 cases of COVID-19 and 2 recoveries with no casualties.
Speaking of the geographical location of the landlocked country, the Priest notes that its positioning also exposes the Basotho people to COVID-19.
“Many Basotho live and work in South Africa and as a result, Lesotho remains at a high risk of infection,” he writes.
“The lock-down in March in neighbouring South Africa saw many Basotho return home. Some of these returnees used illegal entry points into the country and as such evaded screening at the official points of entry,” he explains adding, “Not being tested means that they cannot be tracked should they be positive and this places some risks to the local communities.”
Amid these challenges, Fr. Hosea anticipates the reopening of Churches for public worship.
“There is good news on the horizon as it has been announced that Church services will resume on the fifth of July with certain conditions,” he states.
Among these conditions, Fr Hosea says there will be “a limit to the number of people attending a service at any given time, ensuring the recommended distance between persons in the church building, limiting the service to one hour. Priests have been encouraged to hold as many services as possible.”
“Other noteworthy activities include the washing of hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer at the entrance of the Church building and the disinfection of the Church building prior to and after service. Moreover, all attendees are expected to wear the mask, including the priest, and allowing the reception of Holy Communion only by hand,” the Cleric writes.
Bishops in the landlocked southern Africa nation recently issued guidelines for the reopening of Churches.
“The Church in Lesotho, despite the adverse conditions visited upon it by the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to respond to the great mission of Jesus that ‘all may have life and have it to the full (Cf. John 10:10). The mission of the Church, even during this pandemic, is in the little acts of saving lives and livelihoods,” Fr Hosea concludes.
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