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FAITH, RESILIENCE and PREPARATION: FIGHTING THE DREADED COVID-19 in the ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA

by: Fr.Jerome Secillano, MPA
Executive Secretary CBCP-Public Affairs Committee
March 19, 2020, 12:04PM

The government is right in declaring a total lockdown in the metropolis and the rest of Luzon as a way of containing the spread of corona virus in the country. Judging though from the public’s reaction, it appears that the government has just committed a major blunder in ordering what they now called ‘’enhanced community quarantine’’.

It was the right the policy to begin with but the lack of operational strategy for its implementation is what drove many Filipinos to be agitated, confused, dismayed and despaired. The government wasn’t simply prepared and its failure to provide answers to the growing concerns of ordinary Filipinos about jobs, salary, livelihood and other existential and essential needs merely exacerbated the COVID-19 problem.

The corona virus caught everybody by surprise, our government included, which we expect to at least be ready with contingency measures, in times of crisis such as this, that will mitigate its adverse impact in all aspects of our life.

This is not the time, though, to point fingers and blame our government leaders for our misfortune.

We, in the Church, should rise above these difficult moments, be more prepared and show resilience and strong faith as we continue to minister to our faithful.

POLICY ON PUBLIC CELEBRATION OF HOLY MASS

Let us be consistent in implementing the ‘’NO Public celebration of liturgies’’. The lack of consistency on our part will simply lead to a confused citizenry. To make the people deeply understand such, let us not only say that the basis for such cancellations is the government’s warnings.

Let this be a moment to catechize. Let’s explain to the people the theology, implications, validity and efficacy of such celebrations even without them in attendance.

It’s not enough that we post such discussions or explanations in our FB page. It helps a lot if we make use of Radio and TV Maria in making such explanations. Filipinos are tuned-in today to these platforms. Let’s take advantage of it.

AVAILABILITY OF OTHER SACRAMENTS and SACRAMENTALS

Desperate people look to spiritualizing their problems, meaning, they just simply appeal to their faith and God’s providence to help them overcome difficult situations.

It is in these moments that pastors should show nearness and availability to their flock. If needed to anoint the sick and to bless the dead, we should go and attend to our parishioners. But please do not forget to wear protective gear. Holy water and Bible may not be enough to spare you from being infected or contaminated by COVID-19.

COORDINATION WITH BARANGAY OFFICIALS

Death and dying may occur at any time of the day. If there is a strict implementation of curfew hours in Barangays, do not fail to coordinate with Barangay officials to allow you to minister to a soul in need of God’s grace.

Health front liners are ministering to the sick twenty-four (24) hours a day, it’s a shame if we can’t possibly save a soul in fifteen to twenty minutes of ministering to them because we say that we are under curfew.

If Doctors, Nurses and other medical practitioners can save lives, why can’t we, priests, save souls in this time of crisis?

FOOD AND ESSENTIAL NEEDS FOR THE POOR

Not all parishioners may have sufficient supply of food for the duration of this enhanced community quarantine. Let Barangay officials help us in determining those most in need and at least give them a ration of food.

The food may range from bread, canned goods, rice, noodles, crackers and cookies. At least it should be dignified enough to make the poor realize that the Church continues to take up the cudgels for them especially in this time of need.

The poor may sometimes feel abandoned by their own government. We must not let them feel the same with their church.

SECOND COLLECTION FOR ‘’ALAY KAPWA’’

Before the cancellation of ‘’public masses’’, second collection for “Alay Kapwa’’ have already been done in parishes. May we request Bp. Pabillo to have these collections be used by parishes for operational expenses and not anymore be remitted to Caritas Manila?
Let us move for decentralization in using these resources to help our parishioners. This is a time of emergency and a quick response to some practical needs are necessitated.

CHURCH FACILITIES FOR QUARANTINE PURPOSES

There may come a time when Church facilities may be needed for quarantine. Secular media frequently asked about the readiness of the church for this purpose. We pray, of course, that it wouldn’t come to this extent, but if this indeed happens, may we be unlike the government that’s totally caught unprepared to deal with this crisis.

For each city (Mandaluyong, Makati, Manila, Pasay & San Juan) under the Archdiocese of Manila, let us come up with one facility that may utilized for quarantine needs. This comes under the condition that it will be monitored and manned by health experts and practitioners

DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE NATION

We do know that Prayer is always an effective recourse in times of seeming helplessness and uncertainty.

At this juncture when even our government can’t seem to pacify this helpless nation, the Church needs to step up and be a beacon of hope, a light that shines in the darkness for Filipinos.

Let us pray for healing and consecrate the country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and pray for front liners, like doctors, nurses, health experts and government officials, in the battle against COVID-19. Also, we pray for those already infirmed, those who died and for all deeply affected by this crisis.

The Archdiocese of Manila, as the epicenter of all relevant activities vis a vis COVID-19, may do this on a Sunday (between this coming Sunday and Palm Sunday) at 12 o’clock noon.

We invite the millions of Filipinos to be at a stand-still as we all together pray this act of consecration. Let us also invite major tv and radio networks to cover such activity to ensure the participation of Filipinos nationwide.

TV or RADIO SUNDAY MASS FOR THE APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR

If only to show solidarity and assure the faithful of the Archdiocese of Manila of the tremendous effort of our shepherd, may we give him a particular time to celebrate the Eucharist on a SUNDAY without other parishes live-streaming or even scheduling their masses. This will give Bp. Pabillo an enormous platform to inspire people and deliver his messages of hope to the Archdiocese of Manila.