MIRI: Catholics here celebrated their first Sunday mass in three months - but they did so in parked cars in an open-air mass at the Church of Mater Dei at the Lutong bazaar.
Miri Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Ng presided over the mass with parishioners seated inside their cars, which were all parked at least two metres apart following social distancing as advised by the government.
Bishop Ng celebrated the mass on a stage, with loudspeakers set up all over to enable those inside their cars to hear him and follow the prayers, Gospel readings and homily.
During the mass, Bishop Ng called on Miri Catholics to remain steadfast in their prayers and strengthen their faith in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that had resulted in 17 deaths and 556 positive cases throughout Sarawak so far, with two deaths and 24 positive cases in Miri city.
He also called on Catholics to show compassion and help those badly-affected by the pandemic who are in need of material assistance and food.
Bishop Ng later told The Star that this is the first open-air mass in parked cars in Miri and Sarawak.
"This is the first time Sunday mass is done in such a way in Miri and Sarawak, and possibly even in Malaysia. We in the Miri Diocese will continue with such masses as long as the Covid-19 pandemic is still a threat," he said when speaking after the mass
Bishop Ng added that celebrating mass in such a way will ensure safe social distancing.
He said there is a lot of fear now about a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Miri too.
"The present situation has caused a lot of hardship with many losing their jobs.Those who lost family members to Covid-19 are also suffering the pain of losing their loved ones," said Bishop Ng.
Elsewhere in Miri, masses were also held in churches and chapels but with a reduced capacity of a maximum of 100 parishioners.
There are about 90,000 Catholics in the Miri Diocese which covers 11 parishes throughout northern Sarawak.
All masses and gatherings were halted in late February in adherence to the government's directives following the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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