Sabah and Sarawak to observe Good Friday online

MIRI: Catholics throughout Sarawak and Sabah – along with the rest of the country – will be commemorating Good Friday under the most solemn atmosphere made even more profound by restrictions on mass gatherings under the movement control order (MCO).

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in churches everywhere having to celebrate mass without the usual crowd of parishioners.

Bishop Richard Ng, head of the Miri Catholic Diocese, said though the pandemic had resulted in a lot of hardship and suffering, it presents a time for everyone to ponder and reflect on life, and more importantly, to renew their relationship with God, their families and loved ones.

“This suffering will culminate in Easter Sunday, where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ which brings salvation to mankind.

“From suffering to hope and salvation, that is the essence of the Holy Week. During this hard time of Covid-19, we cannot gather for Good Friday.

“We will have to live stream our masses via social media and parishioners can follow the masses live.

“This way, they will be able to be closer to their loved ones. This actually presents an opportunity for parishioners to have closer personal reflection with God in their homes, and turn to God for help and to family and loved ones for solace.

“The harsh time we are going through can be a time for reconciliation and renewal.

“Already, there are visible signs of surge in acts of charity towards the marginalised and disadvantaged in our community during this hardship we are enduring, ” he said.

The Miri Catholic Diocese has nearly 90,000 parishioners distributed over 11 urban and rural parishes in an area that covers one-third of Sarawak.

Bishop Ng and the priests will celebrate masses in Miri without the presence of the parishioners, even though Good Friday is a public holiday in Sarawak and Sabah.

In Kota Kinabalu, the chairman of the Social Communications Commission for the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Datuk Joe Leong,

said due to the MCO and Covid-19, there would not be any Good Friday service today.

“On this day, the main right is veneration (or kissing) of the Cross. This does not take place this time to avoid the spread of any infections, ” he said.He said Catholics were also deprived of other traditional rites, including the Holy Week.

“On Holy Thursday, one of the traditional rites is the washing of the feet by a priest during the celebration, and there shall be none this year, ” Leong said.

“Even while live streaming at home, families are asked to not wash the feet of each other to avoid any passing of infections, ” said Leong.

During the Easter Vigil Mass tomorrow, there is usually baptism of infants and new members of the church or those who are prepared to be admitted as members.

“The actual rite of administering this sacrament cannot take place too under present conditions, ” said Leong as he underlined the sense of loss felt by Catholics celebrating Easter Triduum (the three celebrations for three days) this year.

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