ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Churches re-open and pastoral activities begin again; St. Nino parish burns in church fire

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 evangelization   pastoral   local churches   coronavirus  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "We have resumed celebrating masses, with due caution and respecting the measures indicated by the government.
We have seen some people cry and were moved in taking part in the Eucharist, after a closure of more than three months. But we cannot let our guard down because the situation of the pandemic in Manila is still worrying. The sick are increasing and the peak has not yet been reached": this is what Father Simone Caelli, PIME missionary and parish priest in the parish dedicated to the "Queen of the Apostles" in Paranaque city, in Metro Manila tells Agenzia Fides. After a three-month suspension caused by the coronavirus, the doors of Catholic churches in the Philippines were reopened on July 13, "but the fear persists among the faithful", reports Fr. Caelli.
This is what also Father Ned Nazareno, parish priest of the Church of the Child Jesus in the city of Molino, south of Manila confirms to Fides. He welcomes about 60 people at a time in a building that could host over 600. "Many faithful are still opting to listen to mass on TV, on the radio or online, in vogue after the lockdown imposed on March 15th".
Despite permission from the authorities, however, several parishes in various Filipino dioceses have decided not to hold public masses as the number of Covid-19 cases is still increasing.
In this situation of uncertainty, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, addressed a message to the faithful, inviting them to "be confident in the midst of the pandemic". "In the past few weeks, we have been hit hard. Coronavirus infection is on the rise. Unemployment continues to affect people. Numerous companies are closing or downsizing. The country's economic situation is bleak", he stressed. In this difficult phase, the adoption of the controversial anti-terrorism law has generated further fears, criticisms and discontent in society". In times of sadness - warns Mgr. Pabillo - let's turn to the Bible. As Psalm 37 says, the wicked will not last. God will not allow it. Don't be sad. Goodness, truth and justice will prevail", he said.
The Bishop also urged Catholics to pray for a parish in Manila devastated by a serious accidental fire, which engulfed the parish church of St. Niño, in the Pandacan district of Manila, on 10 July. "Let us pray for the immediate recovery of the parish. It is good news that no one was injured and that no other buildings were damaged", said Bishop Pabillo in a statement. Bishop Pabillo visited the area and urged the parishioners to support the rebuilding of the church.
The parish, built by the Franciscan friar Father Francisco del Rosario in 1732, housed a statue of the Child Jesus which dates back to four centuries ago, and was a place of pilgrimage and devotion for thousands of faithful. The statue was carved out of dark wood that is similar to the dark Mexican wood of the images of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo and the Black Madonna of Antipolo. The local parish priest, Father de Claro urged the parishioners "to be strong in this tragedy": "Let us start again and build the marker of our faith. Stop crying. Let us get up, stronger and united", he said, informing that the fire did not damage the tabernacle of the consecrated hosts. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/7/2020)