“Covid-19 has encouraged families to pray together and to stay together, bringing out the image of the Church as a family in Africa”, says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Isaac Ebo-Blay, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Ghana (PMS).
“It has changed people’s perception of the Church as just a place (building) to that of the baptized as the temple of the Holy Spirit and so form the church, the domestic church”.
The PMS National Director also stressed that the suspension of the celebrations due to the pandemic “encouraged the church in Ghana in her mission to use social media more to propagate the gospel to the faithful, which hitherto was no much used”.
“The sacramental life of the people has been badly affected because they cannot go to Mass for the Eucharist, though they watch the Mass online and on the TV and pray for their spiritual communion, it is not the same”, underlines Fr. Ebo-Blay. Furthermore, “pastoral life has been affected badly. Visits to homes, hospitals, prisons, etc. have been put on hold. The aged and sick do not receive their communion”.
The turndown of the activities in Church may well occasion “a rise in the influence of ecclesial groups, whose lay members generally give far more time than other Catholics to missionary work, and with more evangelic fervor or the emergence of small tight-knit faith communities within parishes, who meet regularly in homes, rather than in large parish events”.
From an economic point of view, the PMS National Director says “the pandemic has taken a toll on the contributions from the people. Though electronic and digital payments are made by some of the faithful, a greater percentage of the faithful are not paying. This adversely is affecting the mission of the church in Ghana”.
In this difficult situation, “the church in Ghana must be commended for showing compassion and love to people who live in slums in our cities and towns”, says Fr. Ebo-Blay. “The youth leaders in the church helped to distribute cooked and uncooked food to the people. However, in pursuit of mission, the church in Ghana would need to pay more attention to the poor in the church and society whose number has increased”. The PMS Director recalls an important charitable initiative: “In the wave of the coronavirus hitting very hard on the poor people living in the “City of God” slums in Accra, which houses over 150,000 inhabitants for mostly poor and vulnerable, the Archdiocese of Accra with its shepherd Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie, CSSp, made a presentation of food items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the residents”.
“The downturn might also occasion a new zeal, and opportunity, for evangelization, as people shaken by the pandemic and its aftershocks find themselves looking for meaning”, says Fr. Ebo-Blay.
With regards to the special PMS Emergency Fund for coronavirus victims, Fr. Ebo-Blay says that “though the information on PMS Emergency Fund for coronavirus has been received and disseminated to societies and institutions in the church, only one society has pledged its donation. We are still waiting for the response of other societies. Meanwhile, some church societies have contributed to the efforts of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference to help victims of the coronavirus in Ghana”.