By Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Christina Hermoso
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has called for a Special Day of Prayer for all frontline medical personnel in the fight against the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on Sunday, March 29.
In a circular letter, CBCP president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles invited bishops, diocesan administrators, the religious, and faithful to be united in praying for the continued safety and well-being of those in the medical frontline while expressing gratitude to the Lord for their heroic service to the people in these difficult times.
He also asked everyone to pray for those who lost their lives because of the disease and their grieving families, those among them who are sick, and those who are getting overfatigued, that they may receive the much-needed material support and assistance to perform their duties as medical front liners.
“We do this in all our Masses, our Rosaries, during our Holy Hour, and in our moments of personal prayer,” said Valles.
Aside from prayers, the CBCP head urged dioceses and parishes to assist those who are now in a problematic situation by providing facilities for them 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. They are hesitant to go back to their families, and their families and children are hesitant to receive them at home for the simple and obvious reason that they fear that the coronavirus disease might be transmitted to them. 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 Valles.
“As dioceses and parishes, can we start assisting them by providing facilities for them to go home to, some place for rest and sleep, and perhaps some meals — a second home for our dedicated medical front liners — like some available buildings and rooms in our dioceses and parishes, for example, formation centers, retreat houses, and pastoral centers? And of course, with well-prepared hygienic protocols as we make these places available for them,” he added.
“May our prayer move us to action,” Valles said.
Shelters for street dwellers
Parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Manila have opened their doors to shelter the homeless and the street dwellers affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
In a letter sent to parents and partners of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Educational System (RCAM-ES) Schools by Manila archdiocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, the Church leader expressed his gratitude to all the school directors who agreed to house poor families who have nowhere to stay.
“We laud this gesture of our school directors to provide quarters to the homeless and street dwellers, and health workers where they can be safe and secure,” Pabillo said in his letter.
Parochial schools that will open their facilities as temporary shelters to the homeless and street dwellers during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon include the Malate Catholic School, Paco Catholic School, Espiritu Santo Parochial Schools, and Holy Trinity Academy.
“Paco Catholic School accommodated the homeless families under the care of Fr. Luke Mortgart, CICM, while the Nazarene Catholic School will accommodate the healthcare workers from San Lazaro Hospital,” Pabillo said.
“Fr. Flavie Villanueva, head of the Arnold Janssen KALINGA Center, is coordinating the transfer of the homeless to the schools where they can be taken care of. The center and its volunteers will provide for the basic needs of those who are taking shelter at the schools,” the bishop said.
Pabillo said, the schools will follow safety measures required by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization to keep the temporary tenants of the schools safe.
Dozens of homeless families have earlier sought refuge at the campuses of the De La Salle University, its sister school College of Saint Benilde, and at St. Scholastica’s College.