"We pray for the safety and freedom of Fr. Bossi," a church servant read a litany of the mass's traditional Prayers of the Faithful, which is customized based on specific concerns of the community where the spiritual service is held.
A number of foreign nationals joined officials from the city government, tourism, airport, customs, and other agencies who attended the opening ceremonies of the shop.
Fr. Leonardo Vicente, who officiated the mass and the blessing of the newly opened duty free shop, told MindaNews the prayer is similar to what is being said in masses held in parishes and chapels for the release of the 67-year-old Italian priest.
He said the whole Archdiocese of Davao has joined the prayers nationwide for Bossi. He said the prayer is said not only in churches, but also in schools, offices and other establishment wherever mass is said.
But more than half a month after Bossi was kidnapped in Payao town, Zamboanga Sibugay last June 10 by 10 armed elements, the government still has no definite news if he is still alive. There is not much information about his captors, too.
His captors reportedly sent negotiation feelers this week but the military stood firm saying they will not negotiate unless proof is shown the priest is still alive.
Bossi was on his way to officiate mass in a neighboring barangay when the kidnappers picked him and brought him to a location, which both forces in the joint military and Moro Islamic Liberation Front search could not pinpoint 17 days after the abduction.
"The reports that the priest was seen here was all talk. We found out that nobody has actually seen the priest," Mike Alamada, spokesperson of the MILF forces, said from Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte where the priest and his abductors were reportedly spotted, as quoted in an earlier report by MindaNews.
Alamada discounted reports that kidnappers have taken Bossi to mountains near the town as not credible.
Armed Forces Chief Of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon earlier announced in Manila that the priest would be released afternoon of June 20 with the help of the MILF who are engaged in a peace talks with the Philippine government.
The schedule of release has passed but Bossi remains missing.
Traditional leaders in Lanao and Zamboanga peninsula have asked abductors of Fr. Bossi "to set him free without political considerations or ransom."
Sultan sa Marawi Asgar Sani appealed to kidnappers "to free the priests because you will not get anything from it."
A parishioner from Toril, Davao City told MindaNews every time they hear the prayer request said at the mass they are reminded to pray for the priest and other workers of the church risking their lives in communities around Mindanao.
Fr. Danilo Paciento, parish priest of Musuan, Bukidnon told MindaNews via text message that other dioceses, like the Diocese of Malaybalay covering Bukidnon and some parts of Lanao del Sur, have offered prayers for Bossi’s safe release. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)