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By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Dec 19: Catholics in the Archdiocese of Kuching have been encouraged to attend the Christmas Vigil mass and Christmas Day service via live streaming online.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh said with the majority of Catholics in the city, the churches will not be able to accommodate all of them in view of the standard operating procedure (SOP) to contain Covid-19 infection issued by the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) and the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
He revealed that Catholic churches will hold only one mass on Christmas Day (Dec 25).
“Despite our best effort, because of the reduced capacity of churches in view of physical distancing, the majority of our Catholics will not be able to go to church on Christmas Vigil and Christmas Day.
“With the anticipation of 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,” he said in a statement.
Poh urged Catholics to check the latest schedule available from the Archdiocese of Kuching’s website or Facebook page.
He explained that the reduced number of mass services was needed as part of the SOP from Unifor and SDMC for organising festive events such as Christmas Day in order to contain Covid-19 infection in the city.
Poh disclosed that all masses scheduled after 1 pm on Christmas Day will also be cancelled.
He noted the SOP has restricted the hour for visiting houses of worship to be opened by limiting the time of service from 7 am to 1 pm on Christmas Day.
He added the SOP was to prevent large gatherings of people that will continue into the afternoon and evening.
Nonetheless, he asserted that worship and prayer in churches on Christmas Day are allowed within the allocated time given.
“Accordingly, for the Catholic churches, I have issued that all masses scheduled after 1 pm on Christmas Day be cancelled.
“We have responded by coordinating with our churches around Kuching city that have only one mass on Christmas morning to schedule additional mass services in English, Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia.
“Thus, for those who have already pre-registered for the cancelled masses, kindly go to your church website to make a new registration once these mass slots are opened,” he added.
Poh added that he will not be holding any open house for Christmas on Christmas Day itself this year.
Poh who is also the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) chairman urged Christians to follow the guidelines issued by SDMC and Unifor by confining visit on Christmas Day to less than 20 close family members, keeping strictly to the recommendation of maintaining hand washing and practicing physical distancing.
“I encourage everyone to also minimise unnecessary trips outside the house.
“Together, we know we can celebrate Christmas meaningfully while ensuring that Covid-19 is contained for the common good of the people of Sarawak.
“I pray that this Christmas will bring hope, joy and build solidarity and cooperation among all people of goodwill 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. — DayakDaily