The Diocese of Naval in the central Philippines has created a body that will work with parishes on health and wellness issues.
The diocese in the province of Biliran launched this week its ministry for healthcare to reach out to congregations of all faiths and denominations.
The launching took place as the diocese hosted this year’s national celebration of the “World Day of the Sick.”
Bishop Rex Ramirez of Naval said they will also collaborate with public health agencies for programs “that would be good for our use.”
While the ministry is not something new in the diocese, he said some initiatives were just being done at the parish level in the past.
He said that for a long time even the feeding programs have been handled by the diocese’s social action center.
“Now, there will be oversight from the diocese… so this is the beginning of our healthcare ministry,” said Bishop Ramirez.
The prelate also said that among their priorities is to put up a program for the elderly, especially those who are sick, to support Pope Francis’ call for care of the elderly.
The pope has earlier announced the institution of the “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly,” which will take place each year on the fourth Sunday of July.
“I think such a program will be very useful especially for this year when the Holy Father has encouraged special attention for the elderly,” said Bishop Ramirez.
Health is an increasing apostolate in the Church, with about 60 to 70 percent of the country’s dioceses already having their own standalone healthcare ministries.
Dioceses have healthcare programs but some of them are incorporated under their social action ministries.
“We are really increasing in this sense… more and more dioceses are encouraging their people and organizing themselves to better help out in the healthcare ministry,” Bishop Ramirez said.
The bishop conference’s Commission on Healthcare, which is also headed by Bishop Ramirez, have been helping dioceses to have a more robust, integrated and a comprehensive healthcare program.