LIKE the Holy Family trekking all the way to Bethlehem to register for the census, all Brisbane Catholics must reach out to their local parish to register for Christmas Masses.
Christmas Masses are among the most popular of the year and once COVID-safe capacities are reached, parish workers will have to turn people away and direct them to live- streamed Masses.
Anyone who has family, friends or neighbours who are unaware of the COVID- safe rules and intends on going to Mass, should make sure to let them know they can register for Christmas Masses online at their local parish website or call the parish office.
Cathedral parish secretary Carmel Devery said St Stephen’s Cathedral could seat 264 people at Mass under the Queensland Health Department two-square-metre rule, but it was normal for more than 1000 people to show up for midnight Mass for Christmas.
“That’s our big concern – that there’s going to be a lot of people arrive who can’t get in the door,” she said.
She said people might have to be turned away because they were not supposed to stand at the doors or in groups on the precinct because that would not be an organised gathering.
Ms Devery said another concern she had was people might register for Mass but not show up.
“So, by the time the Mass starts, if we’ve got people waiting outside, then we’ll let them register and come in, but at Christmas it’s going to be bedlam,” she said.
“It’s important for you to register with your local parish for the Mass you want to go to.”
Ms Devery said you may not get into the Mass you wanted to get into but many parishes were putting on more Masses for Christmas.
“Certainly register so that you do have a seat, not just show up at the door,” she said.
Cathedral dean Fr Anthony Mellor urged people to talk to their family and friends about registering and being aware of the restrictions for Christmas Masses.
“I think it’s important to stay alert to any changes or developments and we’ll try to update that on the website but sometimes these things happen quickly,” he said.
“If you know of family members, friends, neighbours who might otherwise come to Mass on Christmas Day, it’s important they’re aware of the provisions of registration and it may be a different Christmas for this year.
“There’s always lots of options for live-streaming Masses too, that might be another way in which families can gather.”
Ms Devery said if you knew elderly people or people who did not have access to the Internet, that they perhaps could still call their local parish and register that way too.
Fr Mellor said for those unfamiliar, churches were taking the same safety measures as all other events – the use of hand sanitiser, physical distancing, and registering for contact tracing.
Existing liturgical changes still applied for the long term too.
Fr Mellor said Christmas Masses were going to be a great challenge for parish workers across Brisbane archdiocese.
“There’s a lot of pressure on people like Carmel and parish people, and the volunteers we have here and in most parishes, there’s a lot of pressure on those people with these requirements and regulations,” he said.
“People should plan ahead and be kind to the people who enforce the requirements and regulations, which are really about keeping people safe until there is a vaccine in people’s arms.”
He said restrictions and numbers were not certain and could change too, potentially restricting or expanding depending on health advice.
But no matter the numbers, contact tracing remained important.
“Contact tracing was perhaps more important the more freedom that we have,” Fr Mellor said.
He said if anyone wanted to go to Mass with their whole family and were unable to fit into a Christmas Mass, they could always go the following Sunday which celebrated the feast of the Holy Family.
Despite all the changes, Fr Mellor said Christmas had the same meaning as it did every year.
“Hope in the midst of darkness, Christ is the light of the world as the world is, not as how we would like it to be,” he said.
Queensland restrictions easing with borders reopening
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queensland would open its borders to Greater Sydney from December 1.
The decision came after New South Wales went more than 28 days without mystery community transmission of COVID-19.
Queensland currently had 14 active coronavirus cases, all of which were acquired overseas or detected in hotel quarantine.
A cluster in South Australia had stabilised after a widespread response was activated, despite authorities later discovering the cluster was much smaller than previously thought.
All eyes were on vaccine laboratories after the Oxford University and AstraZeneca announced their vaccine was 70 per cent effective at stopping people getting sick.
World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated calls for equal access to the vaccine across the world.
Global cases were at 59 million at time of writing with the death toll reaching 1.4 million.
Find your local parish or search for any church in Brisbane on the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s complete directory.
MORE STORIES ON CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS AFFECTING MASS:
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- Not obligation, not expectation, just drawn to Mass by love
- Brisbane launches Parish Giving app as a new way to offer something up while Masses are suspended
- Brisbane Carmelite Sisters sacrifice daily Mass “to be in solidarity with everyone else”