Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Anambra State, has enjoined Catholic faithful to pray in their homes for God’s intervention against the Coronavirus Disease.
Okeke, who gave the charge in a statement on Friday in Onitsha, said the directive followed restrictions and policies from federal and state governments following outbreak of the global pandemic.
The Archbishop, therefore, announced the suspension of all public celebration of Holy Mass from March 30 till April 19, including all weekday Masses in all parish churches, oratories and chapels.
He urged the priests to use March 29 to explain to the people the necessity of this difficult decision and other important liturgical guidelines they might need to know at this critical moment.
Okeke said: “I request that priests still celebrate Private Holy Mass in their parishes without the people. Priests are hereby requested to pray for the people in these private Masses.
“Public celebration of the Stations of the Cross (including Good Friday), is suspended with immediate effect. The faithful are encouraged to celebrate them privately in their homes.
“The Onitsha Archdiocese Secretariat is also temporarily closed from today till further notice.
“This is indeed a very challenging time but it is also a time of growth and spiritual maturity. We hereby urge the faithful to pray at home.
“Read and meditate on the word of God, pray the Rosary and pray God to intervene, especially at this trying time.
“Always unite yourselves spiritually in the Eucharistic Celebration and receive spiritual Communion.”
Meanwhile, the state government has directed the closure of all markets for 14 days with effect from March 30 in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said in a statement that the directive was part of ongoing measures by the state to contain spread of the disease.
However, Chukwulobelu said only businesses selling food items and medicines were authorised to stay open during the closure.
He said: “Such businesses should however, observe social distance protocols and other Corona virus health advisory already in place in the state.
“During the 14-day period, traders should stay at home and not move about. This directive will be reviewed at the end of the 14-day period and further directives will be communicated.”
The SSG said members of the state COVID-19 Task Force, the police and other security agencies would strictly enforce this directive.