Advent began on 29 November 2020 and we are finally in the Christmas season – a season that will last till 10 January 2021, when we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus. This Christmas is going to be one of mixed-feelings for many because we are still unable to participate in the Eucharistic celebration as Masses continue to be suspended due to the spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases, especially in the Klang Valley. The year 2020 will certainly go down in history as a Christmas without the Eucharistic celebration for those of us in the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese. Hopefully, with God’s mercy and compassion, we will be able to start afresh in 2021.
For all of us, this Christmas will be different from all other years before, and for many of us, it will be the first time that we are physically absent from Church during Christmas Mass and will not be receiving the Eucharist. Yes! It is going to be an odd sensation for me too, as I celebrate Mass on my own at the main sanctuary of the Church without my congregation. I still remember the feeling I get every Christmas Eve Mass; I always feel overwhelmed, especially when the choir sings the classical melody – “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Unfortunately, the songs of the choir will not be echoing in our Church this year, and our Parishioners will not be able to admire the beautifully decorated Church premises.
However, despite the situation and circumstance, we still have to press on with our lives, and remember that the coming of our Saviour is the reason for this season. So, let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Celebrate with immediate family at home, praying and thanking God for all His blessings, and remain safe while strictly adhering to the SOPs set by the government.
I would like to share some good news with my dearest Parishioners on this Christmas Day. After praying and reflecting recently, I wrote a letter to His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow on 11 December 2020, requesting him to declare the Church of St Joseph, Sentul, a Pilgrim Parish. His Grace was in favour of this and has designated our Parish as a Pilgrim Centre for the Year 2021, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Catholic Church by the Holy Father Pope Francis, who recently announced the Year of St Joseph and Plenary Indulgence from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021.
So, my dear Parishioners, it is going to be another hectic and happening year for us! It will be an opportunity to revamp our Parish and take it to greater heights! Once we start reopening our church for Masses and various activities, I hope Parishioners will be energetic, spirited and motivated to get involved in various ministries, formations and activities. The two key words we need to bear in mind when we launch the Year of St Joseph are, – welcoming and hospitable – especially towards pilgrims. St Joseph has been our Parish Patron since 1908, so let’s continue to pray and imitate the virtues of St Joseph, and through his intercession, may he bring success to the work of our hands.
On that note, I would like to wish you all a blessed and holy Christmas. May your lives be filled with God’s good gifts, abundant joy and heaven’s peace. “…the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow dark as death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79).
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy