Tamil Nadu

Churches embrace technology

Praying in solitude: A priest conducts mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral without members, in Tiruchi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

With Holy Week and Easter round the corner, churches in Tiruchi are making special arrangements to make use of technology to reach out to the faithful in view of the prohibitory orders in force. Many churches are looking to stream sermons online, especially for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

At St. Mary's Cathedral in Melapudur, it has been an unusual season of Lent. The 40 days prior to Easter, nearly 5,000 devotees gather at the church every evening to pray while keeping a Lenten fast. This year, however, they have been asked to follow the mass proceedings on television, says Fr. T. Sagayaraj, parish priest at the cathedral. “TV channels such as MadhaTV and Angel TV regularly telecast masses. We have requested our church members to follow those regularly," he said.

The church is mulling live streaming mass for the Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday on April 5, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday which will culminate with the Easter Sunday mass.

“It has been difficult to convince the devotees to stay at home. They are not satisfied with watching the masses on television too. For their satisfaction, we will be live-streaming it on our website and on Facebook,” he said.

At the church, three priests, including the parish priest have been conducting the regular mass proceedings through Lent in the absence of church members.

At the Infant Jesus Church, Edamalaipattipudur, Fr. Irudhaya Raj encourages his parishioners to read prayers and Bible verses. “Through the Bishop of the Tiruchi Diocese, all churches have been given booklets for people to read and pray at home. We are a little old-fashioned here,” he laughed.

Some tech-savvy churches have taken the season entirely online with special prayers and masses being streamed through the 40 days.

At St. John's Church, the masses are recorded and shared by pastor Rev. S. Sudharshan and his assistant from the beginning of Lent season. “Using the camera installed in our church, we record, convert, edit, add music and share it to our parishioners," he said.

The process takes over a day to complete and in the place of hymns which would usually be sung by the church choir, videos from the internet are downloaded and merged with the rest of the footage. The edited video is then shared on a WhatsApp group with the parishioners, friends and also on their Facebook page.

For the Holy Week, the pastor aims to continue making and sharing videos. "It is a new experience. Since we shoot on a high quality video, we must reduce the video size before sharing it on the phone. These are all small things we are getting to learn through this process. Especially in such a confusing time, these videos give many solace," he said.

The Tiruchi Tanjore Diocese of the Church of South India led by the Bishop is also sharing mass videos on Tamil. "The Bishop along with two other priests record the masses at a newly installed studio set-up at Bishop Heber College. These are being circulated to all parishioners who prefer masses in Tamil," he said.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 8:14:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/churches-embrace-technology/article31252708.ece

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