By Ivy Chai
KUCHING — Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh has expressed his gratitude to UNIFOR for the new SOP dated 15 February, which granted permission to churches in Green and Yellow Zones to reopen. Depending on the size of the church, maximum capacity is limited to only 100 persons.
Masses in most parishes will commence on 20 and 21 February to celebrate the Sunset and Sunday Masses for the 1st Sunday of Lent. Parishioners are to check with their respective Parish Rectors for reopening schedules and to comply with any updated information and directive.
Churches in kampongs or in areas where active COVID-19 clusters are still present are not allowed to reopen. Sarawak is still under CMCO until 1 March, with many active and new clusters.
“I entrust our Catholic Church Prayer Leaders and KGK Chairpersons in the 300 Catholic villages in the Archdiocese to monitor and ensure SOP compliance during wake prayers and burial rites. SDMC considers such gatherings as high risk for potential infections, as we have witnessed in this recent wave in Sarawak,” the Archbishop said.
The 40 days season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday which falls on 17 February this year. It is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation. As such, there is no obligation to either attend Mass or receive ashes. The Church only requires Catholics aged 14-60 years to observe Ash Wednesday as a Day of Fasting and Abstinence.
Catholics may do the following:
- Attend the 9.00 am Ash Wednesday Holy Mass live-streamed from St Joseph’s Cathedral Kuching.
- Fast and abstain from meat.
- Donate to CWS Lenten Appeal.
- Use the family prayer for Ash Wednesday from Arch/diocese of Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Miri within their own family household.
- Different households are NOT allowed to gather together for prayer.
Archbishop Simon Poh implores all Catholics to make sacrifices and do their “utmost best” to contain COVID-19. He urges everyone in cities, towns, longhouses and kampongs to do their “Christian, social and moral responsibility” to adhere to the safety SOPs and to minimise points of contact in their respective social circles.
“Stay vigilant and follow all safety SOP. Pray, Fast and Give Alms. Offer all your sacrifices during this Lent to Jesus. ‘Repent and Believe in the Gospel‘ (Mark 1:15),” the Archbishop advised.