Felix Ikem, Nsukka
The entire people of Enugu State is aglow with joy and jubilation over the third joint directives of the Catholic Bishops in Enugu State on the resumption of church activities at the end of Enugu State lockdown in respect of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Catholic Bishops of Enugu State comprising of Most Rev. Callistus Onaga of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese and Most Rev. John Okoye of Awgu Diocese have been assiduously working hand in hand with the Enugu State government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
In his letter addressed to Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful of Nsukka Diocese, a copy of which was made available to Sunday Sun by Rev. Fr. Matthew Eze, Director of Social Communications the Diocese, Bishop Onah directed that public celebration of Holy Mass for both Sundays and weekdays be restored.
He, however, reminded all that earlier guidelines must still be maintained.
Concerning the number of masses to be celebrated, he said: ‘The number of Masses in a Parish or Chaplaincy is to be increased, celebrated preferably at different locations (Stations or Zones), to reduce the number of worshipers and permit the required physical distance. Concerning the required distance, there should not be more than three persons in a pew. Ministers of hospitality and Parish Security outfits shall help to enforce order.’
On further directives on the duration of Masses and Sign of Peace, the Prelate reminded that every Eucharistic celebration should be made brief (maximum of 1 hour for Sunday Masses and 40 minutes for Weekday Masses).
‘In all Masses, the Sign of Peace (handshaking, hugging) is suspended until further notice. Priests should skip the invitation to do so,’ he added.
Reception of Holy Communion according to the directive should be on the palms.
In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) directives, he reminded everyone on the need to continue to pay special attention to personal hygiene and that soap, water and where possible hand sanitizers should be provided at the entrances of churches and places of worship. The use of face masks remain compulsory for everybody and catechism classes to remain suspended until schools are reopened.
Bishop Onah while encouraging all and sundry, observed that ‘we have painfully gone through difficult bouts of general lockdown which affected every facet of our lives as we never experienced before because of the dangerous coronavirus.’
He reminded all to be aware that the pandemic has not yet left us, therefore, the dangers are not yet over. Hence, even in the light of the current relaxation of the lockdown by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, more efforts are still needed to reduce and stop the spread of the virus.
He further thanked the Federal Government, State Government and all those who have been contributing in different areas to help reduce, control and prevent coronavirus.