09/08/2020, 16.53
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Abu Dhabi: Pandemic does not stop Catholics from holding Confirmations and First Communions

In August 248 young people were confirmed in four separate ceremonies. Some 341 boys and girls are set to receive their First Communion in September and early October. The ceremonies were simple but well appreciated. Strict rules of social distancing were enforced. Only parents were allowed to attend.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – After months of online masses, closed churches and a low-key communal life in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholics in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started celebrating Confirmations and First Communions.

Last Friday, in Abu Dhabi, 80 children received the Communion for the first time in a ceremony held at St Joseph's Cathedral. Last month, the bishop confirmed 248 young people in four separate services.

The feelings of celebration and joy in the community were not hampered by the restrictions (simple ceremonies, limited attendance. strict health rules) imposed because of the CVOID-19 pandemic,

Uncertainties, fears, anxiety for the future and for the health of loved ones gave way to the happiness of a community (pictured) that has embraced in spirit, if not in body, its younger members.

After months of closures and online services, UAE authorities recently began easing restrictions, allowing churches to perform the sacraments in person. In Abu Dhabi, 250 young people were confirmed.

Safety was maintained during Masses and no case of contagion was reported. Now the local Catholic Church is preparing the First Communion of 341 children in ceremonies to be held from now until early October.

At the organisational helm are Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia; Fr Johnson Kadukanmakal, pastor at St Joseph’s Cathedral; and Sister Shelja Poopady, of the Carmelites of Saint Teresa.

“When we heard that we could celebrate Confirmations and Communions, I felt one of the greatest joys I ever had,” said the nun, whose pastoral mission includes teaching children.

“It was not an easy task to prepare everything during the lockdown and pandemic,” she explained. “I am grateful to the Lord for granting us the possibility of celebrating the sacraments.”

Because of social distancing, Confirmation Masses took place over two weeks on Thursdays and Saturdays in August, with 248 candidates divided into four different groups.

Only the parents were allowed to attend the church service, and the parish council picked the two godparents for each candidate.

In thanking the parents and families, Sr Shelja expressed her admiration for them “because they entrusted their children to the Church, knowing that we would take care of them".

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