St. Joseph’s National Catholic Major Seminary in Yangon, the commercial hub of Myanmar, will offer online classes for seminaries in various dioceses as it remains closed over Covid-19 restrictions. Bishops from 16 dioceses have been requested to create an online learning atmosphere for seminarians as online theological classes will begin at 8.30am on Aug. 11. “Theological lectures will be conducted online while awaiting official permission from the government for the reopening of the seminary,” said a letter signed by the rector of the seminary on July 19. It also urged seminarians to participate in an online Mass at 5pm on Aug. 10 when professors and formators will make a profession of faith. The letter said the plan for online classes comes after consultation with Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, chairperson of the Episcopal Seminary Commission, and other bishops regarding the reopening of the seminary.
An official request was made to local authorities on July 16. Their response was that the seminary, as a place for both education and residence for many students, cannot reopen until the government lifts restrictions. The seminary was due to be reopened on May 16 but the pandemic delayed the start of the new academic year. The seminary has been used as a quarantine center to accommodate 130 people after Myanmar’s Catholic bishops offered its facilities to the government. In June, it welcomed 102 returnees from Thailand and China who had been quarantined for 21 days. Churches remain closed and services have moved online for Sunday Masses as the government has extended Covid-19 measures from July 15 to July 31 to contain the spread of the virus. The extension covers all mass gatherings and religious activities at places such as temples, pagodas, churches and mosques. Myanmar’s education authorities opened schools on July 21, beginning with high schools and followed by middle and primary schools two weeks later. Myanmar has so far reported 341 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 278 recoveries, according to health officials. According to the latest data, 609,986 people have died out of more than 14 million confirmed cases worldwide.
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