St Anne’s Feast to go virtual


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 21 Jun 2020

Seeking divine intervention: Church members praying in front a statue of St Anne inside the St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. — MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Ten days of online masses, round-the-clock broadcasting of St Anne’s statue and virtual channels for offerings are being lined up for next month’s St Anne’s Feast.

Held annually with some 100,000 visitors, the celebrations at St Anne’s Church will go fully digital this year owing to crowd control concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Church deacon Rev Lazarus Jonathan said the church grounds would be closed to visitors during the July 24-Aug 2 event that commemorates the canonisation of Jesus Christ’s grandmother.

Themed “Sent with Joy to Heal”, daily masses, adoration and benediction ceremonies will be streamed online from 3pm through

the church’s website www.minorbasilicastannebm.com.

“In previous years, we had different times for masses, especially on weekends where there would be early morning masses.

“This year, we are standardising the mass times and the number of masses so that people will know exactly when they can watch them online,” Lazarus said.

St Anne’s Church has previous experience with digital sharing as the candlelight procession – the usual highlight of the feast day – had been broadcast online in previous years.

“As for this time, we have no plans to proceed with the candlelight procession in the traditional sense,” said Lazarus.

“The committee is looking into how we can explore online means to light candles and present flowers at the Shrine of St Anne.

“The statue will be projected online 24 hours a day, so hopefully we can find a way where people can purchase flowers and they will be put at the statue by the volunteers on site,” Lazarus added.

Penang Bishop Rt Rev Datuk Sebastian Francis said in a statement that the official inauguration ceremony of elevation of St Anne’s Church to a minor basilica would be postponed from its initial Aug 2 date.

“During the months when the churches were closed, the statue of St Anne had been placed closer to the gates of the main entrance where she could be visibly honoured by those who passed by the church.

“(During this St Anne’s Feast,) one of the original statues from the shrine will be brought out to the gates of the main entrance while the other remaining original statue inside the shrine will be made available in the official website through live-streaming for public devotion,” said Bishop Sebastian, who is also the parish priest at St Anne’s Church.

St Anne’s Church became the country’s first basilica on Sept 5 last year after it received the decree from the Vatican.

Bishop Sebastian added that more detailed information on this year’s St Anne’s Feast would be released starting July 1 via the church website.

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