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Masses resume in Hong Kong churches after three months

The diocese has allowed Catholics to attend weekday Masses to avoid crowding on Sundays

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: June 02, 2020 04:33 AM GMT
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Masses resume in Hong Kong churches after three months

Father Dominic Chan celebrates Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong on Sept. 23, 2018. Public Masses resumed in the Chinese territory on June 1. (Photo: AFP)

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The Diocese of Hong Kong resumed public Masses on June 1 after suspending them for more than three months, but parish activities are limited and the number of attendees is restricted.

Cardinal John Tong, apostolic administrator of the diocese, last week announced the resumption of public Masses, saying the decision came after the government relaxed restrictions.

The Chinese-administered city flattened the pandemic curve by mid-April and currently has fewer than 50 active cases. Of the 1,088 cases reported by May 30, at least 1,037 had recovered, with only four deaths so far.

However, Catholics worried about the possibility of contracting the virus by attending Mass can continue viewing online Sunday Masses, Cardinal Tong said.

The diocese suspended public Masses on Feb. 15, initially for two weeks, but extended the suspension as the situation worsened. Catholics in the diocese had no public celebration of Ash Wednesday or Easter or Masses until this week.

The current restrictions limit the number of people to half of the usual capacity of the church. Therefore, people can attend a weekday Mass to fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation, Cardinal Tong's circular said.

The diocese has only started weekday Masses now and plans to start public Sunday Masses from June 7.

Father Peter Leung told UCA News that his Holy Cross Parish has some 4,000 Catholics and Masses used to be held in other centers besides the parish church. Those centers are now closed. "It is a serious worry if they all come together to the parish church to attend Mass on Sunday," he said.

Father Leung plans to arrange an additional Mass every evening besides the morning Mass.

He said his parish would have some 12 weekday Masses, including morning and evening Masses, to lessen the demand for attending Sunday Masses. "It is to ensure that there is sufficient social distance during the liturgy," he said.

Father Leung said his parish is part of a "hard-hit area" and that the parish "has to be careful as more than a dozen residents were diagnosed" positive for the Covid-19 infections.

He also said that about 200 parishioners attended the Mass on June 1.

"They are happy and joyful to participate in the Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist," Father Leung said. "There are also parishioners who are worried, but parishes can only do their best to prevent the disease." 

St. Edward's parishioner Agnes Lam, who was active in weekday and Sunday Masses before the pandemic, confessed that she was "looking forward to but a little nervous" to attend public Mass.

She said most of the 200 people who attended Mass on June 1 were familiar and elderly parishioners "who were thankful that they could attend their first Mass more than three months after the event."

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