Dubai: The doors of St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Jebel Ali reopened to worshippers on Monday, after being closed for 16 months since March last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fr Jozef Timmers, OFM Cap., priest administrator at St Francis Church, told Gulf News the first mass was held at 9am. The church will have two masses at 9am and 7pm from Monday to Wednesday; one mass on Thursdays at 9am; and three services from Friday to Sunday at 7am, 11am and 7pm.
The church will operate with a limited capacity. Only 180 people are allowed for each mass service. Children below six years old are not allowed to attend and it is advisable for children below 12 years and elderly above 60 not to attend the live mass. “Advanced booking available at the parish website is required and strict health protocols will be observed. Worshippers must seat two metres apart and there will be sanitisation after each service. People must arrive early to have time to verify their seating,” Fr Timmers noted.
Peace and joy
Indian expat and St Francis Church parishioner Lizy Thomson said: “We are very thankful to Dubai authorities for allowing us to visit our church and attend the holy mass. Attending a mass in person is far more fulfilling in comparison to that of an online mass. There is a sense of peace and joy that surpass online worship. We are very happy with this decision indeed.”
St Francis Church has posted on its website the following regulations:
— Advanced booking for each member of the family, including children, is required to enter the church grounds at mass time. No one will be allowed to stay in the Church grounds without a booking.
— If you have a fever, a cough or any other symptoms that could possibly be COVID please stay home and cancel your booking. Do not come to the Church.
— If you have an advanced booking but are not able to attend the service for whatever reason, please cancel your booking so that someone else can book that seat.
— Even if you have an advanced booking, after 8pm you are allowed to make a booking for a weekday Mass for the following day. Advanced booking is allowed only once.
— Booking for weekend masses, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is allowed only once to allow others to attend a weekend Mass.
— Children below 6 years old are not allowed to attend. It is advisable for children below 12 years and elderly above 60 not to attend.
— Social distancing is required at all times. Sit, stand and walk two meters apart from other persons. Do not congregate by the grotto or any other location. — People should arrive to the church no later than 15 minutes before the mass begins. Entrance to the church through basement parking cannot be permitted during these times.