The Catholic Bishop of Minna, the Rt. Rev. Martin Uzoukwu on Thursday directed all parishes in Kwanmba Deaconry not to hold the traditional midnight Mass to herald the new year.
The parishes include St Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger, which was bombed on Christmas Day by alleged Boko Haram members.
The bishop , however , told the church members that they should meet from 4p.m to 6p.m to pray for the coming of the new year on Saturday.
Uzoukwu gave the directives while responding to a question by a parishioner, who sought to know if the New Year Eve Mass would hold in the parish against the background of the bomb attack.
“I am directing all parishes in this Kwanmba deaconry, including Madalla, not to hold all night mass as our practice in view of the time we are in.
“On December 31, Mass should hold from 4p.m to 6p.m to thank God for the out-going year and everybody will observe the Passover night with their families.
“We are to converge again for Sunday service on January 1 (2012). Nobody is allowed to sleep in the church during this period,” the bishop directed.
He, however, said the decision was not borne out of cowardice but as a result of reality of the time.
“The directive is only for the Kwanmba deaconry and not the entire diocese,” he explained.
The bishop urged all Nigerians to pray for peace in the country, by setting aside one hour of their time for prayers, irrespective of their faith, to seek the face of the Lord over the challenges facing the nation, stressing that with prayers, God will ”heal our land.’’ (NAN)