After more than three months under the Movement Controlled Order (MCO), St Joseph’s Church, Sentul reopened with the celebration of Mass at 9am on 28 June 2020. A total of 166 parishioners pre-registered, but only 157 turned up and attended the Mass. Those present included 102 registered under their BECs, 15 Inactive-BEC members, 13 Non-BEC Parishioners, 8 RCIA candidates, 22 volunteers and 7 Parish Response Team (PRT) members. We had 2 RELA personnel on duty to ease the traffic congestion at the parking lot and around the church premises. Two officers from the Department of National Unity, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (Kementerian Perpaduan Negara) came by to assess adherence to the stipulated guidelines, and they were quite happy with the proper implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures for the reopening of our Church.
This Sunday (5 July 2020) invitation was extended to 11 other BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) within our Parish, to attend Mass. We estimate that at least 230 parishioners will attend, excluding the volunteers. Every Saturday, our Parish Response Team (PRT) and volunteers carry out the necessary preparation and undergo training in anticipation of the Sunday Mass the following day. It is a tiring job to undertake, and I just hope they won’t give up easily in carrying out their tasks and responsibilities.
The celebration of Sacraments with the faithful was suspended throughout the MCO and it is only a week since we resumed the Eucharistic celebration. There are a few other Sacraments to be celebrated, and that would probably commence in early August – the Sacrament of Matrimony and Baptism of infants. During the MCO, a few weddings were postponed and rescheduled to early August 2020. These couples have already attended the Catholic Marriage Preparation Course (CMPC) last year and now they only need to do a Pre-Nuptial Enquiry (PNI) and complete some administrative paperwork. We will make the necessary arrangements for their Church wedding, in compliance with the SOPs laid down by the government and the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.
There are also several infants waiting to be baptised but before that happens, we need to prepare their parents and godparents by presenting them with the Infant Baptism instructions. Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments we receive in the Roman Catholic Church. It is “the gateway to life in the spirit (vitaea spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments,” (CCC no. 1213). Although it is the first sacrament received by a person, subsequently opening the door of the Church to them, I prefer that we hold a low-key celebration in Church for now, with a limited number of people from the immediate families in attendance.
Many of our aged, sick and homebound parishioners are hoping to receive the Sacrament of Anointing and Holy Communion. However, we still need to be extra cautious when interacting with those most vulnerable. We are still in the discussion stages on this matter and hope to come up with a proper solution soon. Till we meet, be assured of our humble prayers for you at home.
We have faced a lot of difficulties and challenges in experiencing Jesus through the Sacraments and in our faith journey. We find ourselves in a place of pain and feel as though God has abandoned us and our families. This Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives and many are finding it difficult to grasp any form of routine. As we move from one phase to the next in reopening and celebrating the Sacraments, we pray that all will strictly adhere to social distancing requirements, as well as safety measures, by practicing good personal hygiene in order to prevent a second outbreak in our community.
We will be gradually moving from Spiritual Communion or Virtual celebration through live streaming, into a more tangible and personal celebration of Jesus in our lives. In the process of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, we need a lot of support, cooperation, determination, discipline and perseverance to be able to comply with the SOPs set both by the government and the Church. We are becoming more familiar in adapting with this new norm of life. Together, let us take the initiative in our spiritual development and form a healthy community and a healthy nation.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy