A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines announced 40 days of fasting and penitence as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am declaring Forty Days of Fasting and Penitence for the Archdiocese of Zamboanga in solidarity with those who suffer readily the effects of the pandemic,” read a pastoral letter issued by Bishop Moises Cuevas, apostolic administrator of Zamboanga.
The days of fasting and penance will begin on October 13 with the tolling of church bells across the archdiocese at eight o’clock in the evening followed by the praying of the rosary.
Bishop Cuevas said a catechesis on this period will be held in the weeks preceding the penitential activities.
He asked parishes to make available the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those who wish to engage in a spiritual and moral renewal.
The 40-day period will end on November 21, Christ the King Sunday, with a “penitential walk” from the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar to be joined by the clergy and religious of the archdiocese.
The declaration was contained in the bishop’s first pastoral letter released on August 24, two weeks after Pope Francis appointed him as apostolic administrator of Zamboanga.
The archdiocese is also launching a program of “Catechesis on the Word of God” in anticipation of the Sunday of the Word of God on January 23 next year.
Bishop Cuevas said this inter-parochial catechesis will be conducted online “as a way of accompanying our faithful and those who continuously seek refuge in the word of God in these trying times”.
The 47-year old bishop added that the archdiocese is creating “Gifted to Give Stations” in the parishes to continue helping the poor and destitute.
“There will be a continuous distribution of material goods to be organized in our parishes in ensuring that we respond appropriately and care for our brothers and sisters in need,” Cuevas added.
The activities, he said, will be spearheaded by the newly-established Archdiocesan Pandemic Management Office.