Livestreamed Ash Wednesday mass only, Catholics called to observe fasting, abstinence

Archbishop Simon Poh

KUCHING, Feb 16: Ash Wednesday which falls on Feb 17 is not a holy day of obligation and Catholics do not have to attend mass or receive ashes.

This was disclosed by Archbishop Simon Poh who however, called on all Catholics aged between 14 to 60-years-old to observe Ash Wednesday with fasting and abstinence.

“Ash Wednesday which falls on Feb 17 is not a holy day of obligation. So there is neither obligation to attend mass nor receive ashes. The Church requires that all Catholics aged (14-60 years) observe Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting and abstinence.

“Catholic churches will also not be reopening for Ash Wednesday. Holy Mass will be live-streamed at 9.00 am from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Kuching.

“You may use the home prayer for Ash Wednesday prepared by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Diocese of Penang, and Miri Parish within family household. Different households or families are not to gather to observe Ash Wednesday,” said Poh in a statement today.

He put his trust in all Catholic church prayer leaders and KGK chairpersons in around 300 Catholic villages in the archdiocese to monitor and ensure standard operating procedure (SOP) compliance during wake prayers and burial rite.

“Sarawak Disaster Management Committee considered such gatherings as high risk for potential infections as we have witnessed in this recent wave in Sarawak,” said Poh.

Meanwhile, he also stressed that Catholic churches in villages or in areas where active Covid-19 clusters are still present are not allowed to open as such gatherings may create potential for further infection.

Poh expressed appreciation of the newly issued SOP from the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) dated Feb 15, 2021 which allows masses in churches in Covid-19 green and yellow zones for a maximum of 100 persons, taking into consideration the size of the building.

“We will use the next few days to prepare the SOP admission and sanitising teams to prepare for reopening of our churches for the first Sunday of Lent with Sunset and Sunday Masses on Feb 20 and 21 respectively.

“The respective parish will arrange for the reopening of the main parish church and kampung (village) churches on this weekend or on the following weekend. Please follow the decision and directive of respective Parish Rector for updated information on reopening,” said Poh.

As the chairman of the Association Churches in Sarawak (ACS), he reminded all that Sarawak is still under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) with many Covid-19 clusters still active.

“Though churches have been given permission to reopen in green and yellow zones, I exhort all Christians in cities, towns and kampung to do our social Christian responsibility to contain Covid-19 by adhering to safety SOPs and minimising points of contacts in our social circles.

“We believe that together with all people of Sarawak, we will contain this widespread (sic) of Covid-19 for the common good of all,” said Poh. — DayakDaily