JOHOR BARU – The change in Johor’s weekends from Saturday-Sunday to Friday-Saturday has led to rescheduling problems for churches in catering to parishioners’ worship and faith education needs.

The announcement of the changed weekend was made last November by Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
Churches that are affected are the city parishes where they have a large numbers of vernacular- speaking parishioners.
Couples planning to get married are expected to adjust the time of their wedding Mass from Saturday evening to Saturday morning.

Ms Philomena Beh, a faith educator at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Johor Bahru, said that catechism lessons are shortened because they have to cram classes for the three language groups – English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin – on Saturday.

Mr Francis Soh of St Joseph’s Church in Plentong said, “The Chinese group is affected the most as we have a number of catechism classes for children currently studying in the Chinese-medium schools in Johor Baru.”

He explained that the national Chinese schools observe Fridays and Saturdays as their weekend break while the Chinese independent schools take Saturdays and Sundays as their off-days.

Fr Anthony Ng, chancellor of Melaka-Johor diocese said, “The Church in Johor will do its best to ensure Catholics fulfil their Sunday obligations.”

He said regardless of the changed weekend, Catholics must not acquit themselves of their weekend worship obligations.

He also urged parents not to renege on their obligations to send their children to catechism classes.

Sharing similar views, Fr Devadasan Madala Muthu, parish priest of St Louis Church, Kluang said that with the changes, “wedding Masses and baptisms are to be conducted in the morning”, and priests will “no longer be able to attend the wedding receptions in the evening as we have Masses in the parish”.

By Vincent D’Silva