A congregation at St Mary's Church in Dubai, earlier. The church reopens on Monday, but visitor numbers will be restricted. Image Credit: Courtesy: Jayson Quilala

Dubai: St Mary’s Catholic Church in Oud Metha, Dubai, will reopen on Monday (February 1), with two masses scheduled daily, parish priest Fr Lennie J.A. Connully OFM Cap announced on the church website. He said: “Glad to announce that we have received permission from CDA (Community Development Authority) to reopen our church for the Holy Mass with a few conditions and guidelines.”

St Mary’s Church will have two masses daily at 6.30am and 7pm from February 1 onwards, but the church will remain closed at other times.

Pre-registration is a must

Fr Connully noted that only 30 per cent of the church’s capacity, which will be around 250 people, will be allowed to attend the mass. There will not be distribution of the holy communion during the mass and pre-registration through the church website is a must to attend the mass. He added: “Those registered for mass should report 30 minutes before for the thermal scanning to enter the church. Senior citizens above 60 years and children below 12 years are discouraged from atending. Both the masses every day will be live-streamed as it is being done presently.”

Install Al Hosn app

Fr Connully also said that churchgoers must install the Al Hosn app on their mobile phones. All attendees must wear face masks and gloves at all times while at the church premises. Visiting or veneration at the grotto or other areas in the church or church compound before or after the mass will not be permitted. Canteen and toilet facilities will remain closed and eating and drinking within the church premises is strictly prohibited. “The guidelines have been given to us by government authorities. So please follow the instructions strictly,” he clarified.

'I'm overjoyed'

Parishioners welcomed the news of the reopening of the church, which was temporarily closed last March as part of the precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus. Matilyn Bagunu, choir director at St Mary’s Filipino Community Choir, told Gulf News: “I’m overjoyed that our prayers had been granted. It’s been ten months now since we last had our mass service. So we’re very excited to sing again for the church and the community. Earlier, we were advised that only five choristers (choir members) would be allowed on the choir loft, but we have yet to confirm that.”

Read more

Another parishioner said: “The reopening of the church is something that we all have eagerly been looking forward to. Though we have been informed that Holy Communion will not be allowed to be distributed, we are still grateful for the opportunity to pray once again to bring this pandemic to an end. Looking forward to the day when holy communion will be permitted too.”