The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called for a Special Day of Prayer for all front-line medical personnel in the fight against the new coronavirus disease.
In a circular released on March 27, the prelates urged Catholics to be united in praying for the safety and well-being of those in the medical front line on March 29.
The church leaders also expressed gratitude to the Lord for the “heroic service” of the health workers in “these difficult times.”
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops’ conference, urged Catholics to remember the health workers in Masses, rosaries, during Holy Hour, and in personal prayers.
Aside from prayers, the prelate also called on dioceses and parishes to assist those who are in a “problematic situation” by providing facilities for people to go home to.
“It has come to our attention that many medical personnel, doctors, nurses, and medical staff are now in a problematic situation,” said Archbishop Valles.
He said many are hesitant to go back to their families, and their families and children are reticent to receive them for fear of the new coronavirus.
“Also we heard that some landlords are now becoming hesitant to allow them to come home to their rented places for fear of the transmission of this disease,” said the archbishop.
He urged dioceses and parishes to assist health workers by providing facilities for them to go home to, some place for rest and sleep, and some meals.
Tribute to health workers
Earlier, Archbishop Socrates of Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has taken to social media to post a tribute to health workers.
“To all those caring for the sick, you become the face of Jesus to them. Jesus in the sick and Jesus in you, you meet together caring for each other,” he said in a video message.
At one point in the video, the archbishop was seen holding back tears as he recalled Pope St. John Paul II’s encounter with the lepers during his visit to Manila in 1981.
The pope, the archbishop said, wanted to see the lepers at the Tala Leprosarium but was not allowed.
Instead, he said that the lepers were brought to an auditorium of Radio Veritas in Fairview, Quezon City where the pope was holding an event.
As frontliners in the fight against the new coronavirus, the archbishop said that health-care professionals and other hospital workers are also “taking care of Jesus.”
“And we can never pay the love and service that you have given us,” said the archbishop.
“There are many reasons to be afraid but there are also many reasons to be joyful because you are serving God. And you are Jesus to us all,” he said.
On the island resort of Boracay in the central Philippines, a Catholic priest has announced the “exorcising” of all equipment and a chapel on March 28.
Father Palermo Suganob of the Holy Rosary Parish said the exorcism is intended ensure the effective transmission of online Masses to Catholics.
The priest decided to perform the ritual after he encountered technical problems with the audio of his recorded prayers, which were intended to be broadcast online.
“The recording was clear during that time, but while we review the recording, there was no sound,” he said.
“We will exorcise the place and the gadgets. We know that demons are doing their part to cut all our communication and prayers,” added the priest.
He also urged Catholics to pray the rosary.
The priest said he further plans to hold a religious procession at sea in the coming days “to ward off evil” on the island.