Many sectors of society outside of the government have been doing more than their fair share in COVID relief and prevention—not the least of which is the Catholic church.
With the return of Enhance Community Quarantine, the government has mandated in-person religious gatherings to a full stop within the NCR Plus bubble. The Catholic church has made significant adjustments to its way of worship since last year, with traditional mass celebrations at a pause until further notice.
Last year, the Philippine government praised congregations and dioceses—including the Catholic church, which it is often at odds with—here for their contributions to COVID causes. This included providing temporary shelter for frontliners and healthcare workers, and giving food to those in need.
Drives for food and basic necessities have been ongoing at different parishes. More initiatives have been undertaken as well through Caritas Manila, the Catholic church’s lead social service and development ministry in the country. This includes giving out Ligtas Covid-19 sanitation kits and Manna food bags to poor families in Metro Manila.
While also solemnly praying for a post-COVID world to come sooner, here are some of the Catholic Church’s efforts to help flatten the curve:
Streaming the word
The Manila Cathedral serves as the Prime Basilica of the Philippines. The neo-romanesque structure in Intramuros provides worshipers with live-streamed liturgical celebrations such as daily mass and healing rosary events.
At the Vatican, Catholics worldwide can worship with Pope Francis by attending his live-streamed masses. There are multiple official YouTube channels, each specifically catering to English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Vietnamese, and more.
Approximately 1.57 million people visited the magnificent Westminster Abbey in 2019. The public can now celebrate holy masses there in-person, but attendees must book a slot online to ensure minimal capacity is maintained.
In order to control transient crowds from gathering, the well-known cathedral has launched digital tours. General visitors are currently not allowed inside the cathedral. The initiative is a great way to view the building’s architecture while one waits to visit in person.
A virtual 360-degree glimpse of other iconic cathedrals such as the Sagrada Familia, Notre Dame de Paris, and Canterbury Cathedral are also shared.
A large part of every county’s vaccine rollout is the logistics. In the US, hospitals have been teaming up with churches to provide the public with a venue to get vaccinated in a familiar and comfortable place.
At St. Cajetan Church in Denver, churchgoers volunteered to help fellow parishioners who cannot speak English or know how to go about the vaccine application process. The volunteers made phone calls to register those who needed assistance. A total of 2,000 people got successfully vaccinated at St. Cajetan Church.
Church leaders around the world also encourage parishioners to get their vaccinated and, like in Myanmar, urge donations for vaccine procurement.
Even before doses became set for distribution, Pope Francis called for universal access to vaccines in a Weekly General Audience announcement last April 2020. “It would be sad If this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all,” his holiness says.
The ability to maintain faith during turbulent times can be challenging, however, more manageable when you are part of a community of faith. In Makati, Santuario de San Antonio Parish has been cultivating their online community with posts of daily morning and evening prayers.
The parish is holding complete Holy Week activities exclusively offered online to avoid in-person contact.
Banner Image of The Manila Cathedral by @wanderfleur from Unsplash