By Stephen Then
MIRI — Catholic parishioners in Miri celebrated their first Sunday Mass in three months—inside parked cars in an open-air mass at Church of Mater Dei in Lutong bazaar on Sunday.
Head of Miri Diocese, Bishop Richard Ng, presided over the drive-in mass with parishioners seated inside their cars which are parked at least two metres apart from the other in adherence to social distancing as advised by the government.
Bishop Ng celebrated the Mass on a stage, with loudspeakers set up all over to enable those inside their cars to hear him to follow the prayers and Gospel readings and homily.
He later told The Star that this is the first such open-air mass inside parked cars in Miri and Sarawak.
“This is definitely the first time Sunday Mass is done in such a way in Miri and Sarawak and possibly even in Malaysia.
“We in Miri Diocese will continue with such form of masses as long as the Covid-19 pandemic is still a threat.
“Such a way of celebrating mass will ensure safe social distancing,” he said when interviewed after the Mass.
During the Mass, Bishop Ng called on Miri Catholics to remain steadfast in their prayers and strengthen their faith in God in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic that had resulted in 17 deaths and 556 positive cases throughout Sarawak so far, with two deaths and 24 positive cases in Miri city.
He said there is a lot of fear now about a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Miri too.
“The present situation has caused a lot of hardship with many losing their jobs.
“Those who lost family members to the Covid-19 are suffering the pain of losing their loved ones.
“There is great fear of a second wave of infections.
“Parents are constantly worried about their children being infected, and the future ahead that is unknown.
“Surrender our fears to God, trust in God and pray for strength to carry on,” he said.
He also called on Catholics to show compassion and help those badly-affected by the pandemic who are in need of material assistance and food.
Elsewhere in Miri, masses were also held in churches and chapels but with reduced capacity of maximum 100 parishioners.
There are about 90,000 Catholics in Miri Diocese which covers 11 parishes throughout northern Sarawak.
All masses and gatherings were halted in late February in adherence to government’s directives following the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.