KUCHING (Dec 19): Catholic churches here that have only one mass on Christmas morning will schedule additional services in various languages as all masses scheduled after 1pm on Christmas Day are to be cancelled, Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh said today.
He said those who have already pre-registered for the cancelled masses are to go to their church website to to register anew once these mass slots are opened.
“With these challenges in preparing for Christmas, I see that this has enabled all our Catholic churches in Kuching to work together with the common aim of enabling our Catholics to come to worship in any church on Christmas Day.
“We would like to ensure that the standard operating procedures (SOP) will be followed so that our churches are safe for worship on Christmas Day,” he said Saturday, in response to the SOP established by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), and also the National Security Council (MKN) for Christmas.
Poh, who is Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) chairman, also revealed that as the Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, he will not be holding any open house for Christmas this year.
He said that ACS is grateful that they are able to celebrate the Christmas Vigil and Christmas Day services.
He pointed out that it is understood from the perspective of major festivals and cultural days of the major religions and cultures in Malaysia that in order to minimise points of contact and exposure to Covid-19, the SOP will have restrictions on the hours for visiting houses of worship by limiting hours to 7am to 1pm on that particular religious day.
“The aim is to prevent large gatherings of people that will continue into the afternoon and evening. Seen this way, the worship and prayer in churches on Christmas are allowed within the allocated time given,” he said.
Poh is aware that because of the reduced capacity of churches in view of social distancing, the majority of Catholics will not be able to go to church on Christmas Vigil and Christmas Day.
“With the anticipation more than 30,000 viewers who will log in online, I would like to assure our Catholics that we will continue to make available the Vigil Mass and Christmas Sunday morning masses via live streaming.
Poh also requested that every Christian follow the SDMC and Unifor guidelines by confining visit on Christmas day to less than 20 close family members, keeping strictly to the recommendation of maintaining hand washing hygiene, and so on.
He also encouraged everyone to minimise unnecessary trips outside the house and to know that Christmas can be celebrated meaningfully while ensuring that Covid-19 is contained for the common good of the people of Sarawak.
“In this time of Covid-19 pandemic that has affected us, I pray that this Christmas will bring hope, joy and peace and build solidarity and cooperation among all people of good will as we work together to alleviate poverty and suffering.
“On behalf of church leaders of ACS, I wish all Christians and all friends a Christmas filled with joy, peace and hope,” he said.