By Ivy Chai
KUCHING — In the face of the rapidly increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sarawak, the Catholic Archdiocese of Kuching has issued an announcement to all Catholics on the Temporary Suspension of Masses. Below is the list of measures in the Pastoral letter issued by Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh on 14 March.
1. All weekend and weekday public masses will be suspended for two weeks from 20 March Friday to 3 April Friday*. We therefore exempt all Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation of attending Mass during this period. This exemption is a temporary measure and we will continue to monitor and review the situation to determine if the above period of suspension needs to be extended beyond 3rd April.
2. All catechism classes, Sunday Schools, RCIA sessions and other programmes and activities should be cancelled during this same period.
3. All meetings, gatherings, formations, fellowships and events organised by churches are to be cancelled during this period.
4. Any weddings or funerals are to be conducted privately with guests limited to immediate family members and close friends.Please contact your parish priest for further details.
5. For the Sacraments of Penance (Confession), Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion for the home bound, kindly contact the parish office for an appointment with your parish priest.
6. Churches and chapels shall remain open for private and personal prayer and Eucharistic adoration according to the times scheduled by respective parishes.
7. We are making arrangement to broadcast online Masses over the weekends in the various major languages and will provide the links as soon as we have them.
8. Although, a broadcasted Mass is no substitute for an actual mass, it can still serve as a form of spiritual devotion. We recommend the faithful to read the Word of God, especially the prescribed readings for the Mass of the day, pray the Holy Rosary, fast and offer up other spiritual exercises and devotions to invoke God’s intervention to an end to this crisis.
9. The experiences of other countries have taught us that SOCIAL DISTANCING is able to contain massive outbreaks. The current measures we are taking are also in accordance with the recommendation of the Ministry of Health and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to postpone all mass gatherings.
10. We continue to place our hope and trust in Almighty God and pray that the Lord will bring a swift end to this crisis. May Almighty God bless you and your families with good health, peace and abundant graces.
*All weekend and weekday public masses have now been suspended instead from 15 March Sunday to 3 April Friday.