SEMANA SANTA CANCELLED: Public told to pray at homes in response to pandemic

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

All masses and celebrations scheduled during Holy Week have been cancelled to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a press conference on Monday, the Archdiocese of Jaro announced the news as the church heeds to the order of the local and national government agencies to ban all mass gatherings and religious events amid the threats of Covid-19.

“We are sad but we have decided to cancel all activities scheduled for the Holy Week from Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, Black Friday, until Eastern Sunday,” Rev. Fr. Joenick Teritorio chancellor of the Archdiocese of Jaro said.

Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo issued guidelines ordering the cancellation of all public celebrations during the Holy Week such as procession, Visita Iglesia, and masses, according to Teritorio.

All Sunday and weekend masses are also suspended starting on March 19.

The church said they will transition to online, television, and radio broadcast to hold masses and other Eucharistic celebration.

“We urge the public to tune to their radio stations, tv, and to go online for the holding of our masses. These are extraordinary times but we assure you that we are continuously looking for alternatives so that the faithful will not be deprived of their spiritual needs,” Teritorio said.

Baptisms, confirmation, and church weddings will also be rescheduled except for emergency cases.

Masses for barangay and municipal fiestas are likewise suspended.

The sacrament of confession is also cancelled except when it is “extremely needed”.

“To those, who are extremely in need of the sacrament of confession, they can approach any parish priest. The priests will respond generously and with urgency to the spiritual needs especially of the sick and dying provided that the protocols set by the local government and the health department will be followed,” the guidelines added.

For funeral masses, it is advised that the masses shall be limited for family members and if possible, it should be held at home.

Parishes are also advised to routinely disinfect their respective churches especially door knobs, microphones, tables, and seats among others.

Amid the growing concern over COVID-19, the archbishop urged the Ilonggos to strengthen their faith and pray daily as a response to the pandemic.

“In this moment of crisis, it is the moment to strengthen our faith. We respond to this pandemic in faith and in prayer. Prayer casts away all fears,” the archbishop stressed.

He reminded Ilonggos to pray daily the family rosary, Litany of the Saints, Devotion to San Roque and Oratio Imperata against COVID-19.

In the upcoming Lenten season, he said the faithful should still observe forms of Lenten penance such as fasting, abstinence and almsgiving.