Pandemic #Covid19 “Christians grateful they can celebrate Christmas Vigil, Christmas Day services In Sarawak and Malaysia”

Christmas is a time for sharing, giving and a time of reflection for most Christians.

They will celebrate the Festival of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Pandemic #Covid19 is still very much around and the necessary Standard operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines laid down by the authorities must be adhered and followed by all for the Christmas Period.

Wishing Everyone a Blessed Christmas and continue to #staysafe

(Extracted a message from Archbishop of Kuching and Chairman of Association of Churches in Sarawak)

KUCHING: Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) is grateful that they are able to celebrate Christmas Vigil and Christmas Day services, says its chairman and Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh.

He pointed out that it is understood from the perspective of major festivals and cultural days of the major religions and cultures in Malaysia in order to minimize points of contact and exposure to Covid-19 infection.

The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) will have restrictions on the hours for visiting houses of worship by limiting from 7am to 1pm on that particular religious day.

“The aim is to prevent large gatherings of people that will continue into the afternoon and evening.  Seen this way, the worship and prayer in churches on Christmas are allowed within the allocated time given,” he said yesterday in response to the SOP established by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), and also the National Security Council (MKN) for Christmas.

Poh also said that Catholic churches in Kuching City that have only one Mass on Christmas morning have been coordinated to schedule additional Mass services in English, Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia while all Masses scheduled after 1pm on Christmas Day are cancelled.

“Those who have already pre-registered for the cancelled Masses are to go to their church website to make new registration once these Mass slots are opened,” he said.

Poh is aware that because of the reduced capacity of churches in view of social distancing, the majority of Catholics would not be able to go to church on Christmas Vigil and Christmas Day.

“With the anticipation more than 30,000 viewers will log in on-line,  I would like to assure Catholics that we will continue to make available the Vigil Mass and Christmas Sunday morning Masses via live streaming.

“Do check the latest schedule available from the Archdiocese of Kuching website or Facebook page,” he said.

Poh also requested that every Christian follow the SDMC and Unifor guidelines by confining visit on Christmas day to less than 20 close family members, keeping strictly to the recommendation of maintaining hand washing hygiene, and so on.

“With these challenges in preparing for Christmas, I see that this has enabled all our Catholic churches in Kuching to work together with the common aim of making available places for Catholics to come to worship in any church on Christmas Day.

“We would like to ensure that SOP will be followed so that our churches are safe for worship on Christmas Day,” he said, adding that as the Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, he will not be holding any open house for Christmas this year.

He encouraged everyone to minimise unnecessary trips outside the house and to know that Christmas can be celebrated meaningfully while ensuring that Covid-19 is contained for the common good of the people of Sarawak.

“In this time of Covid-19 pandemic that has affected us, I pray that this Christmas will bring hope, joy and peace and build solidarity and cooperation among all people of good will 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.