Updated: October 03, 2021 08:32 AM GMT
People travel in Ho Chi Minh City after movement restrictions were lifted on Oct. 1. (Photo courtesy of Hoang Vu)
The most active archdiocese in southern Vietnam has resumed some of its public religious activities after a four-month suspension to fight Covid-19.
Father Peter Kieu Cong Tung, chancellor of Ho Chi Minh City Archbishop's House, announced that the city government had relaxed social distancing measures to gradually restore economic and social activities and bring people's life back to normalcy. Public gatherings may be held with limited attendances under strictly controlled conditions.
Father Tung said local parishes and religious communities may provide pastoral activities and liturgical services for a maximum of 60 participants from Oct. 1. Participants who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 are required to wear face masks, clean hands with disinfectant and keep safe distances from one another.
He asked priests to arrange many Masses at weekends so that the faithful can attend. Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City allows priests to celebrate as many as four Masses on Sundays.
Father Tung called on people aged 65 and above, those with background diseases, children and people who have not been fully vaccinated to stay away from churches. They can be in communion with the church's life of prayer by attending online services.
As teenagers under 18 years old have not been vaccinated, parish priests should organize online courses in catechism to strengthen their piety. They are encouraged to follow online Masses for themselves on Thursdays and Sundays.
We fervently pray to God to end the outbreak soon so that the city gets back to normal life and we can find jobs for a living
"We all gratefully thank God and continue making sacrifices and doing good deeds every day to pray for the world to overcome the contagious pandemic soon," Father Tung said.
The local Church had suspended all its activities since May 22 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic at the government's request.
The ministry council of Vuon Xoai Parish in the city said the parish would hold Masses according to its normal timetable and without choir services.
It said parishioners are required to attend one Mass per day and sit in marked rows in the church. Old people and children should not go to church.
Mass participants must obey health protocols to protect their own health and the community's safety as the disease remains complicated and spreading fast in Vietnam’s Covid-19 epicenter.
Catholic associations in the parish are not allowed to have activities until further notice.
Anthony Nguyen Hoang Dung from Bach Dang Parish said his family members are following online Masses at home as his parish church can only accommodate 60 people.
Dung, who has been fully vaccinated, said a funeral with a few participants was held at the church on Oct. 2.
The man, who works for a local daycare center, said he has had no job for the past five months as the center was closed for Covid-19.
"We fervently pray to God to end the outbreak soon so that the city gets back to normal life and we can find jobs for a living," the father of two said, adding that local schools are still closed.
Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese has 690,000 Catholics in 200 parishes served by 900 priests and 6,900 religious.
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