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Covid: UAE churchgoers get emotional attending mass after 10 months

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on February 1, 2021 | Last updated on February 2, 2021 at 05.37 am

(KT)

The church was temporarily closed last year in March as part of the precautionary measures.

Dubai resident Joseph James stepped into the church compound for the first time in ten months on Monday morning as St Mary’s Catholic Church in Oud Maitha reopened its doors for Holy Mass services on Monday. The church was temporarily closed last year in March as part of the precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus.

“It was an emotional homecoming for me as I felt as if I was away from my home for all this while and this feeling of returning after eleven months was so exciting and blissful,” said James, who was one of the regulars at the church and made it a point to attend the holy mass service every single day before the pandemic struck.

Since the church was allowed to run on only 30 per cent of its capacity, which meant around 250 people were allowed to attend the mass, church-goers had to pre-register through the church website to get an entry for the service. The church will have two masses daily at 6.30am and 7pm from Monday onwards, but will remain closed at other times.

The parishioners were informed about the reopening of the church through the church website and social media handles on Thursday that the Community Development Authority (CDA) had granted permission to resume the Holy Mass within the premises of the church.

James, was one of the 250 church-goers who reached the church by 5.30am — an hour before the scheduled time for the mass service to begin.

“Although my whole family could have registered for the first day of the mass, we have planned to take turns to go and let others also get a chance to attend the service. I was so excited to go to the church after so long that I reached an hour before the mass so that I could get a seat there. We were allowed in from 6am onwards and at exact 6.30am the service started and ended in 30 minutes. Everything was very well-arranged and volunteers were constantly guiding us where to sit, how much distance to keep. There was perfect discipline, social distance, all covid safety measures were in place and everyone obeyed the rules to the T.

A couple of inspectors from the CDA were also present the church premises to see to it all safety measures were in place.

Explaining the entry and exit procedures at the church, a parishioner explained: “All the parishioners had to go through compulsory temperature checks, show their pre-registeration SMSes, after which they were ushered in by a team of volunteers who guided them to their allocated seats that were marked with numbers and stickers to see to it a good social distance is maintained. There were separate entry gate and two exit gates for the people to come and leave the premises of church and as soon as the service was over the church premises was cleared and volunteers ushered us out.”

Expressing her gratitude to God and the authorities of the UAE, another parishioner Leela D’Souza, said she had been counting down the days since the church closed to once again experience the feeling of devotion that she felt when at church.

D’souza, who has been associated with St Mary’s church for almost three decades said: “ It was such a wonderful feeling to be attending the live service at church after spending 341 days away from it. I felt complete after attending the mass today. I was one of the those who would go to the church, so I am glad to be back.”

The church staff ensured al attendees were wearing face masks and gloves at all times while on the church premises. Visiting or veneration at the grotto or other areas in the church before or after the mass was not allowed.

Also, there was no distribution of the holy communion during the mass.

saman@khaleejtimes.com





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