Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone has raised concerns over the persistently low turnout for Holy Week activities in the Archdiocese.

In a message shared with ACI Africa on March 23, Archbishop Tamba Charles expressed dismay at the apparent indifference of the lay faithful towards various pastoral activities available to them.

Despite the significance of Holy Week in the Catholic calendar, Archbishop Tamba Charles noted a stark lack of attendance, particularly during Holy Thursday and Easter Vigil liturgical celebrations. He emphasized that while Good Friday draws large crowds, the turnout for other Holy Week events remains dishearteningly low. Reflecting on his sixteen years as Archbishop, he lamented the trend, stating, “I have observed in the last twenty or so years…that the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of Freetown generally do not attend, in large numbers, the other liturgical celebrations during the Easter Triduum.”

Addressing the issue, Archbishop Tamba Charles pondered the reasons behind this lack of interest, especially during Holy Thursday, which commemorates the Lord’s Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist—a cornerstone of Catholic faith. He described Holy Thursday as “the distinguishing mark of the Catholic Church and its members.” Similarly, Easter Vigil, a significant occasion symbolizing the anticipation of Christ’s resurrection, has also suffered from low participation, according to the Archbishop.

Expressing his bewilderment, Archbishop Tamba Charles questioned whether Catholics were inadvertently imitating practices of other religious denominations that do not observe Holy Week in a similar manner. Dismissing security concerns as a reason for low attendance, he highlighted the willingness of Catholic faithful to attend social functions that extend late into the night without fear for their safety.

Moreover, Archbishop Tamba Charles expressed concern over the broader indifference displayed by laypeople towards pastoral activities, including Bible study sessions organized by clergy members. Despite efforts to enrich parishioners’ understanding of Sacred Scripture, attendance at these sessions has been disappointing, prompting Archbishop Tamba Charles to appeal to parishioners to participate actively in upcoming Holy Week celebrations.

He urged Catholics, young and old alike, to prioritize attendance at Holy Week events, emphasizing the significance of the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The Archbishop’s plea underscores the importance of fostering a deeper spiritual engagement among the Catholic faithful in Sierra Leone.

As Archbishop Tamba Charles continues to shepherd his flock through these challenges, his message serves as a call to action for the Catholic community in Sierra Leone to rekindle their commitment to their faith and actively participate in the sacred observances of Holy Week.