Palm Sunday in the Time of COVID-19

Palm Sunday 2020 took place earlier this month on April 5.  For many Catholics around the world it is one of the most holy days. It is a commemoration of when Jesus came to Jerusalem and was met with palm branches in his path just before h e was arrested and on Holy Thursday and crucified on Good Friday. 

For Catholics today, the way they traditionally commemorate this is by grand processions and the distribution of palm leaves that are said to have been blessed.  Thereafter begins the final week of Lent.

But this year there won’t be anything like that.  This year COVID-19 took center stage and traditional celebrations did not take place.  Catholics in New Jersey instead were given the opportunity to watch priests celebrating Mass through livestreams.  New Jersey governor Phil Murphy urged local communities to follow suit as the coronavirus death toll increases.  Murphy said:

“We know this is hard but we beg you to stay away from each other. I know that staying apart is really hard, but right now we have no choice. It is what we need to do, it is what we must do.”

He added that with over 34,000 New Jersey locals infected, it was essential to respond to the outbreak. 

Murphy addressed other communities at the same time: Jews, Muslims, Protestants among others, urging them all to “stay home to mark their important religious holidays over the coming days.”