Dubai Catholic church set to open on February 1 with Covid safety rules

Dubai - Seniors above 60 years old and children below 12 are discouraged from booking attendance.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Fri 29 Jan 2021, 1:10 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Jan 2021, 11:26 PM

Dubai resident Anna Dio couldn’t remember the last time she had been to church after Covid-19 moved masses online. On Friday, she learnt about the good news. After several months of closure, St Mary’s Church — home to one of the biggest congregations of Catholics in the country — is reopening its doors for Holy Mass services on Monday, February 1.

“It comes as a relief, especially for worshippers who have long had special intentions to pray for,” said Dio.

Parish priest Fr Lennie J Connully took to social media and its website to announce that the church has received permission from the Community Development Authority (CDA) to resume the Holy Mass within its premises.

In a letter addressed to all parishioners of the church, a copy of which Khaleej Times has seen, Fr Lennie said: “We are allowed two masses every day at 3.30am and 7pm from Monday. The church will remain closed at other times.”

Pre-registration has been made mandatory and only 30 per cent of the church’s capacity — around 250 worshippers — will be allowed to attend the mass. Seniors above 60 years old and children below 12 are discouraged from booking attendance.

The Holy Communion will not be distributed during the mass, the notice added.

“Both the masses every day will be live-streamed as it is being done presently. Entry for those registered for mass will be from Gate 2 and exit from Gate 1 and 3,” Fr Lennie explained.

Though Dio is looking forward to attending the mass, she said that at the moment, she would give way to those who needed the opportunity. “I plan to go to the church only when I have to offer special prayers personally. Even though we are devotees, we have to understand that, at this time, we cannot go to the church all the time even if it is open. We have to keep safety in mind and give the limited slots to worshippers who really need them. Besides, we are all still free to attend the livestreamed masses.”

Another devout Catholic, Marge Escaro-Diaz, is happy that the church is finally open. “However, considering that I am immunocompromised, I will continue tuning into online masses for now.”

Fr Lennie reminded that those with chronic diseases and prone to infections must refrain from coming to church. Those who may experience any symptoms of Covid prior to the mass services are advised to cancel their online registration immediately so that the spot may be allotted to another parishioner.

Those registered for mass must arrive 30 minutes before the schedule as all attendees will have to undergo thermal scanning before entering the church.

“All attendees must wear face masks and gloves at all times inside the church premises,” he added.

Visiting or veneration at the grotto or other areas of the church before or after the mass is not permitted. Canteen and toilet facilities will remain closed, and eating and drinking within the church premises are strictly prohibited, Fr Lennie explained.

The ‘Al Hosn’ application must be downloaded on the visitor’s mobile as well. “We hope more concessions from the authorities will follow when we conduct ourselves well and prove efficiency in crowd management,” the parish priest said.

KT file photo
KT file photo

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