Dubai Catholic church allowed to hold large Mass for first time since pandemic began

St Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali can now allow 180 parishioners to attend each service

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A Dubai church has been granted permission to open Mass to a larger gathering for the first time during the pandemic.

The St Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali has opened online registrations that allow 180 parishioners for each service.

The church has been open since February for a limited number of 40 worshippers for a half-hour service only on Friday due to Covid-19 safety regulations.

It makes us very happy to open for more people
Fr Jozef Timmers

The church began its first hour-long service for 180 worshippers on Monday and is readying to welcome parishioners to three services this weekend.

“For very long, people have been accessing our services online and it makes us very happy to open for more people,” Fr Jozef Timmers, priest administrator, told The National.

“It has been a hardship for people who have not been able to gather for Mass every week. It is good to be able to come together safely again.”

People must register on the church website and need to show notification for entry along with their emirates identity card or passport.

Two Masses will be held on Monday and Wednesday, one on Thursday and three services from Friday to Sunday.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Kelly Clark: A gentleman cleans at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Churches suspend mass gatherings and increase cleaning operations. Thursday, March 12th, 2020. Jebel Ali, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Parishioners above the age of 60 and children below 12 years have been asked not to attend Mass.

The church received permission from Dubai’s Community and Development Authority on July 8 permitting the hour-long services, with numbers capped at 30 per cent of capacity.

Volunteers and officials have been readying the premises in Jebel Ali with sanitisation after each Mass and deep cleaning daily.

Before the pandemic, more than 15,000 people attended services from Friday to Sunday.

The largest church in Dubai, St Mary’s Catholic Church in the Oud Metha district of Dubai, reopened in February more than 10 months after doors were shut to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The church permits 230 worshippers three times a day.

Churches in Abu Dhabi reopened in August last year, with limited numbers allowed entry.

All churches require online registrations.

Updated: July 28, 2021, 1:36 PM