NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – Nairobi Catholic Archbishop John Cardinal Njue on Sunday presided over the first Sunday Mass to be held after the government allowed in-person worship in strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Cardinal Njue welcomed parishioners back to the Holy Family Basilica even as he acknowledged that the last three months had been an extraordinary time being the first time Catholic faithfuls in the country have had to do without public worship and sacraments.
“It has been more than three months that we have been unable to meet, even on Sunday we are not able to congregate for mass like this because reasons that are obvious to all. But we thank God, that we have allowed to have in-person worship such as this. We welcome all to this service, we know and recognize it as a blessing.”
“We should continue to pray for God to grant us His Blessing and Strength as we continue abide by Him Presence, even those who are still at home, including the children we have missed you in our services but we want you to know that, we can continue meeting through electronic means such as television and online,” Cardinal Njue remarked in his homily.
The Cardinal noted that the Church’s bishops and priests understand the importance of abiding by safety standards to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Today will be a reopening of our worship gatherings in our churches, and so we are grateful to God because he has given us this opportunity. Many Christians have been eager and we give thanks to the Lord because He has gathered His Flock back to their Shepherd, who is Jesus Christ,” he said.
On July 6, President Kenyatta announced the phased reopening of places of worship in the country under strict health ministry guidelines which limit gatherings to 100 congregants for a period not exceeding an hour.
Other measures include clearly labelled sitting positions to ensure social distancing of 1.5 metres between congregants while singing will be limited to liturgical action.
All who enter Church premises are also be required to ensure that they are wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
A spot check by our newsteam, found that at Sanctuaries such as St Peter Clavers Catholic Church along Nairobi’s Racecourse Road, ushers used thermal guns to scan body temperature of parishioners before they were allowed into the Church compound. This is measure aimed at weeding out those who may have indicators of illness.
Parishioners were also provided with hand washing stations or alcohol-based sanitizers for use before and after the gathering.
The administrators of the worship places are to put measures to discourage socializing outside places of worship and omit the sign of peace communion rite which entails shaking of hands.