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PASTORAL LETTER ON COVID-19

“Jesus is in our midst. He is our living water. In Him we find healing and hope.”

When Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, at first, she completely misunderstood what Jesus was really asking. What he was offering was the gift of his very self for he is the spring of water welling up to eternal life. In this time of uncertainty and trial, we come to Jesus, the Living Water Himself. He quenches our thirst and allays our fears. In Him we find confidence to come together and face the challenges that the COVID-19 brings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us that this “would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of the virus.”

We humbly ask God for mercy as we do our part by introducing proactive measures in our own communities. Public health is a shared responsibility. More than a civic obligation, it is part of our mission.

Heeding the call of the government authorities and the CBCP’s public health advisory, we enjoin everyone to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.

We remind everyone to practice correct and frequent handwashing with soap and water. All parishes will provide alcohol at the doors of the church and sanitize church premises. We strongly appeal to all the faithful to refrain from kissing and touching sacred images. Holy Water fonts will temporarily be emptied during this time of crisis.

We strongly urge those who are sick to refrain from attending liturgical celebrations. Anyone who exhibits flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, or colds must stay home and seek medical attention if necessary. This is especially true for priests, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Lectors and Commentators, Greeters and Collectors, Choir members, Altar Servers and other lay ministers. As a proper etiquette, those who sneeze or cough are enjoined to always cover their mouth, as the virus is transmitted thru respiratory droplets. This is a genuine expression of charity.

The WHO confirms that the corona virus may spread through monetary bills. We recommend disinfecting hands with sanitizer after putting offerings into the collection box.

We recommend that ministers of Holy Communion use alcohol before and after the distribution. We reiterate that reception of communion should be by the hand. To minimize the spread of saliva, communion will be given silently; it will likewise be received silently.

We are strongly urged by the Department of Health (DOH) to cancel, postpone, or suspend all gatherings of a great number of people. In this regard, we hereby suspend community gatherings like recollections, retreats, pilgrimages, Stations of the Cross, prayer meetings and Kumpisalang Bayan. However, we encourage priests to make the Sacrament of Penance more frequently available in the confessional with a protective cloth installed for the protection of both the priest and the penitent.

We will continue to minister to the sick, administer baptism and all the other sacraments, taking into serious consideration the necessary precaution for the safety of the minister and the faithful. Online recollections will be made available on Social Media through the facebook page of the Diocese of Cubao.

For now, we advise against physical contact with each other in prayer and other gestures, e.g. shaking hands during the offering of peace, holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer, beso-beso and pagmamano.

The local Church of Cubao continues to be a beacon of hope amidst these trying times. Let us do our part in promoting positivity by avoiding the spread of unverified news and information which may cause panic and useless anxiety. Let our actions and decisions be always grounded in faith and guided by reason. Let this trial, like the many challenges we have faced as a nation, bring out the best in each of us – as Filipinos and as Christians.

We ask all parishes, offices and institutions in our local church to monitor the progression of the outbreak and take any and all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection. We will continue to comply and cooperate with the government directives to arrest the spread of the virus.

As we continue to entrust our country and the world to the mercy of God through the continued praying of the Oratio Imperata in all our parishes, we remember the countless heroes of our days- the health workers, the doctors and nurses, the volunteers, our partners in the government, scientists and those who in their own way take part in controlling this epidemic.

To my dear priests in the Diocese of Cubao, by the grace of ordination, you have been made shepherds after the heart of Christ. Let us take courage as we minister to the flock entrusted to our care.

Jesus is in our midst. He is our living water. In Him we find healing and hope.

Mary, health of the sick, pray for us.
San Roque, patron against plagues, pray for us.
San Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.
San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

MOST REV. HONESTO F. ONGTIOCO,DD
Bishop of Cubao

1 Comment

  1. Robert J. Diaz

    Gd pm how about our Holy week activities? Do we have any advice on how we will handle our rites? Like the washing of the feet, The processions and veneration of the cross .thanks

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