Coronavirus: LA church celebrates Palm Sunday with community giving as worshipers turn to online services

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Churches and other places of worship across the nation remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many who practice Christianity to find a way to celebrate Palm Sunday.

One church in Woodland Hills attempted to reach its parishioners on the holiday, which opens Holy Week leading up to Easter, by encouraging them to donate blood and non-perishable food to help the community.

St. Mel Catholic Church did not pass out blessed palm branches, which are usually handed out during mass on the holiday, in order to avoid spreading the virus. But the church encouraged individuals to feel the spirit enough to give of themselves.

Father Steve Davoren says the food donations would benefit the Guadalupe Community Center in Canoga Park, which serves the disadvantaged community.

Additionally, parishioners will be able to donate blood through 3 p.m. at the church.

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Churches and other places of worship across the nation remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many who practice Christianity to find a way to celebrate Palm Sunday.



Countless of Christians were expected to tune into Palm Sunday masses from the comfort of their own homes as many churches offered live streams of services.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was expected to hold services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in downtown - but worshipers had to tune in online.

On Sunday morning, President Trump tweeted that he would be watching a service in Riverside while in the White House. The president said he would tune in online to Palm Sunday mass from Harvest Christian Fellowship.



Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday Mass without the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, which he said should focus people's attention on what's most important, despite heavy hearts - using one's life to serve others.

Looking pensive and sounding subdued, Francis led the first of several solemn Holy Week ceremonies that will shut out rank-and-file faithful from attending, as Italy's rigid lockdown measures forbid public gatherings.

Normally, tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, clutching olive tree branches or palm fronds would have flocked to an outdoor Mass led by the pontiff. Instead, Francis celebrated Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.

Wearing red robes to symbolize the blood shed by Jesus in the hours of his crucifix, Francis blessed braided palms.

"Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: 'Courage, open your heart to my love,'" Francis said.

Francis urged people to hold fast to "what really matters in our lives."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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