Virtual Palm Sunday Service Presents Obstacles For One Coachella Valley Church

Virtual Palm Sunday Service Presents Obstacles For One Coachella Valley Church

Taylor Martinez

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – As religious residents across the Coachella Valley turn to livestreamed services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Palm Sunday for Christians this weekend is shaping up to be no different.

For one local Catholic Church, which has been livestreaming its services for weeks now, technology has presented another barrier: filming the procession representing Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem.

“It’s not practical to have a procession under the circumstances,” said Rev. Father David Justin Lynch of Saint Cecilia Catholic Community in Palm Springs. “Our camera is stationary. It’s on a tripod and not movable.”

Saint Cecilia’s has had no problem livestreaming Mass as COVID-19 has forced the closure of all nonessential gathering places across Riverside County. The services have included less than 10 people, including a videographer, all standing 6 feet or more apart, Lynch said.

But for Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, the holiest week of the year in the Christian calendar, which culminates with Easter Sunday the following weekend, Saint Cecilia’s will be forced to adjust due to technological limits, Lynch said.

The service on Sunday will begin with the Blessing of the Palms, followed by a singing of the hymn, “All Glory, Laud and Honour,” and other day-specific details, absent one of the more notable aspects of the yearly affair: the physical procession.

In other years, the congregation at Saint Cecila’s would walk out the back of the church, around to the front door and back inside to symbolize Jesus’ return to Jerusalem.

Holy Thursday, representing Jesus’ last supper with his apostles, will be no different, according to Lynch. Churchgoers at Saint Cecilia’s normally spend a part of this day washing each other’s feet, as Jesus washed those of his disciples.

“Because of sanitation concerns due to the coronavirus, we are going to forego that,” he said.

And if things remain the same come Easter Sunday, April 12, Lynch said that service will be livestreamed, too, on Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/SaintCeciliaCatholicCommunity/.

The Palm Sunday service begins at 10:30 a.m.

For more information on Saint Cecila’s, go to http://www.saintceciliacatholiccommunity.org.