Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It has been 12 weeks since Mass and other church activities were suspended in our Vicariate due to COVID-19.
Nevertheless, God has not left us totally to our own devices and He has continued to provide for our spiritual welfare in this time of self-isolation and social distancing.
Through the streaming of liturgical celebrations as well as devotional programs and catechetical instruction for our children, the life of the Church has continued though the focus has moved from our church building to the Church of the home and family. In the near future we are all looking forward to the resumption of public worship in church as and when the green light is given by the relevant government agencies.
Tentatively, preparations are ongoing in our parishes to put in place proper safeguards and integrating the scientific guidance of public health authorities should we receive the go ahead to begin.
The latest information we have indicates that the numbers of services and the people attending will follow a phased approach.
As a start, it is likely that a single block of time will be allocated that may allow two brief Masses to be conducted on a Sunday at 30 per cent of the building capacity.
Subsequently based on the results of this first trial period the capacity may incrementally rise to 60 per cent and 90 per cent and daily times of worship may be allowed as well.
Should we resume liturgical celebrations, everyone will be required to observe a very strict code of conduct to minimise the risk of individual infection and cluster formation.
This means that, when we start, we will only accept those in the age range of 15 to 70 years.
You will be expected to use the BruHealth app to prove your health status and scan our church QR code on entry and exit to facilitate contact tracing.
Prior to attending, you will be required to pre-register your intention to attend the Mass of your choice at a specific time and date. Other information will outline what you will be expected to comply with prior to arrival, the screening procedures at the church entrance and protocols to be observed during Mass including the reception of Holy Communion.
Please adhere strictly to the instructions of those entrusted with facilitating your attendance at Mass.
Your parish priests and I understand your desire to return to Mass attendance. Unfortunately, in the short term, resuming public Masses will mean some people will not be able to participate for their own safety and wellbeing.
Therefore in our Vicariate the Sunday obligation will still be dispensed and Masses will continue to be streamed in the interim period. I would like to appeal to everyone to be understanding and to bear patiently with the light inconvenience that will accompany the return to public worship in our churches.
Be assured that we will look into provisions to cater for those unable to attend such as the elderly, the sick, the housebound and children. God bless all of you on this Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday.
I ask for your prayers and for the intercession of Our Lady to guide our Vicariate in providing this safe and orderly transition. Thank you for your patience.
Rt Rev Cornelius Sim
Apostolic Vicar of Brunei June 3, 2020