Fr. Lennie J. A. Connully with Fr Chito Bartolo during an online Simbang Gabi address. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: There will be no face-to-face mass services at St Mary’s Catholic Church and Holy Trinity Church in Dubai and all Christmas services will be held only virtually, church leaders have announced.

Fr. Lennie J. A. Connully OFM Cap, Parish Priest at St Mary’s Church, announced on their website mass for Christmas will be at 7pm today, December 24. There will be two online masses on Christmas day, tomorrow, at 6.30am and 7pm.

Addressing the parishioners about the suspension of physical masses, Fr. Connully noted: “I know you will be disappointed. But take it in the spirit of Christmas, ‘Peace to men of Good Will’. I beg your kind understanding in the development and cooperation is humbly solicited.”

He also advised parishioners to skip going to the church as “people are not allowed to pray outside the gate, along the church wall or facing the church or grotto.”

Online masses

Rev. Harrison Chinnakumar, chaplain of Holy Trinity Church in Dubai, also told Gulf News they will only be conducting online Christmas services. One is at 11pm tonight and the other is at 9.30am on Christmas day (Friday). Both masses will be streamlined on Zoom and social media.

He advised parishioners to remain steadfast in their faith and celebrate Christmas with faith, hope, joy and peace. “(Because of COVID-19), we live in a world of uncertainties. We may not know what is tomorrow, but in the midst of these, we still strongly believe in faith, hope, joy and peace.”

He also advised parishioners to skip going to the church as “people are not allowed to pray outside the gate, along the church wall or facing the church or grotto.”

Mass at Mar Thoma Church

Meanwhile, Rev Siju C. Philip, Vicar at Mar Thoma Church Dubai said they will have a physical mass at 7am but under strict precautionary measures. An online service will also be conducted at 10am.

According to authorities, the guidelines include taking the PCR COVID-19 test within 96 hours of the service and those who will attend the mass should have the Al Hosn app on their smart phones. Registration is required to attend the service and those above 50 years old and below 12 years are not allowed to participate in the services. Holy Communion service is prohibited and all those who serve in the church are also required to take PCR test within 48 hours of the function they serve.

St. Michael’s Church Sharjah

Face-to-face Christmas services will be held at St. Michael’s Church in Sharjah. There is no registration for attending the mass services but children below 12 years old and elderly person above 60 years, and pregnant women are not allowed to enter the church.

Masses on Thursday are: 7pm and 10pm in English and 8.30pm in Malayalam 8.30pm. The Christmas Night Vigil Mass will start at 11.55pm.S

ervices on Christmas Day (Friday) are: Syro Malabar masses at 3am and 2.30pm; English at 6am, 7.30am, and 7pm; Konkani 9am; African 9am; Singhalese 10.30pm; Tamil 10.30 am; Arabic 12pm; Korean 12pm; Urdu 12pm; French 1pm and Malayalam 8.15pm.

St Joseph's Cathedral - Abu Dhabi

All Christmas masses at St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi require prior registration at least 24 hours before the mass timing. Some services are extended to St. Therese and Bishop Hall.

Christmas eve masses are 8pm, 10pm and 12 midnight while numerous Christmas day (Friday) masses start from 6.30am until 8.30pm. Some services will also be streamed live on church website and official social media accounts.

St. Andrew’s Church - Abu Dhabi

Registration is also required to attend the services. St. Andrew’s Church, however, has long notified that Midnight and Christmas Day Services are both already filled up. Services will be streamed live on the church's YouTube page at 11.30pm for the Midnight and 10am Christmas day service.

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Ras Al Khaimah

No prior booking is need to attend masses at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, RAK. Christmas eve mass is at 7pm (in English) 9.30pm (Malayalam). There is also a Midnight service at 12mn.

Christmas day masses are: Malankara mass at 4am, English masses are 7.30am, 9.30am, 11.30am, and 7pm; Malayalam 3.30pm; Arabic 8.30pm. Umm Al Quwain Church will have three masses: 9.30pm on Thursday and two masses on Friday at 7.30am and 9.30 am.

Family outing

Chris Gallardo and family. Image Credit: Supplied

Long time Dubai resident Chris Gallardo said his family will not miss attending a mass on Christmas. He said they will drive all the way from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah to continue their family tradition. “We have completed the nine-day online Simbang Gabi but we want to be physically present to attend the mass on Christmas,” he told Gulf News.