Although this year’s Good Friday was marked by empty pews, hidden behind closed church doors, Cayman’s Christian community were still able to come together to the religious holiday, thanks to help from modern technology.
“As I think the people of these islands know and understand very well, Easter is the holiest of the celebrations in the Christian calendar; and Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the two most sacred days,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin while speaking at the government’s daily COVID-19 press conference on Thursday. “It has been a long-standing tradition for there to be church services on Good Friday, as well as Easter Sunday.”
However, on Good Friday no church services were held before congregations, no songs were sung, no sermons preached, and no prayers prayed – all in observance of a government mandate that restricts the gathering of more than two people.
“It’s hard, and we have to follow the [government-issued] guidelines because these are challenging times and we must all find ways to keep hope alive, and seek our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Father Naveen D’Souza of the St. Ignatius Catholic Church.
The Catholic church is one of several churches that have resorted to streaming services live on social media platforms. Cayman’s churches are not alone – churches worldwide have closed their doors to the public, opting to provide live video feeds instead.
Father Naveen said, despite the difficulties posed by the social distancing requirements, the clergy must continue to provide for the community’s spiritual needs.
“It is also to give encouragement to the people….” he said. “A lot of people are suffering with the different reasons, economically, physically, mentally, there are many ways that people suffer at this time.”
Father Naveen, joined by Father Theo D’Cunha, on Friday, prayed for the church, the community and the leaders, as Cayman continues its efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19.
Premier McLaughlin on Thursday called on the community to follow in the footsteps of Christ and make a selfless sacrifice by foregoing church service in person.
“For many, these are still very important observations of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “So, I know that not being able to observe this Easter the way we are used to, is going to be really difficult for most people. But I urge all of us to understand the sacrifice, as Christ made his sacrifice, the sacrifice we have to make to ensure that all of us continue to live, hopefully, all of us, to see a brighter Easter next year.”
In Cayman, Easter is also a time when families have traditionally flocked to the beaches in search of the perfect spot to camp for the long weekend. This year, however, beaches which are normally crammed full of tents and makeshift housing lie bare for miles on end. No campers could be seen, and the few people who were out and about were those who were enjoying the 90 minutes of exercise allowed by the soft curfew.
As Easter Sunday draws near, even stricter restrictions will be imposed, as the country will be locked down in a hard curfew.