It has been two months since the re-opening of our church for Sunday worship. Initially, there was apprehension and uncertainty about the arrangements following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in order for our Parishioners to celebrate the Eucharist during the weekend. However the Parish Response Team (“PRT”) has successfully coordinated the weekend Masses (Saturday Sunset and Sunday morning Mass) involving all our 34 Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) members and carried out their tasks well, taking us from Phase 1 into Phase 2. Starting September 2020, they will prepare for Phase 3 and Phase 4.
In Phase 3, we will resume daily morning Masses, wedding Masses, infant baptisms, distribution of Holy Communion to the homebound and Rite of Initiation for the Christian Adults (RCIA). Starting 1 September 2020, our weekday program (Monday to Friday) will begin with morning prayer (LAUDS) at 6.30am and followed by the Eucharistic celebration at 6.45am. We ask that Parishioners pre-register before walking into Church for the weekday morning prayer and Mass. Once you enter the Church premises, your temperature will be taken and recorded at the guardhouse. You may then enter and occupy the allocated seat inside the Church accordingly. Once Mass is over, you will be required leave the Church premises immediately. We want to minimise movement within the Church compound to ensure safety.
We are still limiting the number of attendees at wedding masses and funerals to between 20 and 30 persons, respectively. There are a few couples who have requested for the Sacrament of Baptism for their infants and this will be celebrated accordingly when we move into Phase 3. However, we will impose a limit on the number of persons attending the baptism ceremony to only 6-8 immediate family members. The Sacrament of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) for the 2019/2020 RCIA Candidates will take place on Sunday, 30 August 2020 at 2pm. We will also lift the current restrictions and allow children below the age of 13, especially those who have already received the Sacrament of Holy Communion and also the elderly, those 70 years and above who are in good health, to attend Mass during Phase 3. Parents or any respective family members are required to sign a declaration form, which will be forwarded through all BEC leaders.
The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) will resume bringing Holy Communion to the homebound in their respective BECs, but only fortnightly, for a start. I hope Parishioners will communicate with their respective BEC Communion Minister, when coordinating a homebound visit. We encourage the EMHC to take extra precautions when visiting the homebound, as they are among the most vulnerable in our community. I too have taken extra care when visiting the elderly and sick parishioners, bringing them Holy Communion and administering the Sacrament of Holy Anointing.
September will be a challenging month for the Parish Response Team (PRT) and volunteers, as they look into the logistics of coordinating Masses and celebrations here in Church. Although many parishes have been opened since August 2020, the SOP on non-Muslim places of worship still restrict attendance to only Malaysian citizens. The Church has a significant number of Parishioners who are non-Malaysians, and they have repeatedly requested to be allowed to participate in Mass. I hope the authorities will permit them to attend the Eucharistic celebrations soon.
As the Church in Malaysia starts to open its doors once again, it is time for us to reawaken our faith and start participating in-person at Mass. Although virtual services are still on-going to cater to those who are unable to attend Mass in-person, those of you who are eligible and able to be present at Church during Mass should make every effort to register and return once again to Church.
As we move into Phase 3 and Phase 4, we will carry out the new normal way of life in our religious practices at Church, without relaxing the stipulated SOPs. Let’s pray for our families and our community, so that our relationships will continue to flourish and be enhanced, for the better.
Pope Francis said, “May the Lord help you to discover new ways, new expressions of love, living as you do in this new situation. For in the end, this is a beautiful and creative opportunity to discover ourselves.”
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy