ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 15 March) — The Diocese of Iligan, in an announcement via its Facebook page late Saturday evening, announced that Masses in all its churches, which include those in the Lanao del Norte, will be suspended indefinitely starting Sunday, March 15, to help in the “government’s precautionary measures” for the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
Bishop Jose Ramirez Rapadas III instead advised the clergy to celebrate mass through the internet, television and radio.
He also advised couples getting married to reschedule their weddings, and only those scheduled for baptism on Sunday (March 14) should show up.
“Regarding the funeral, only the Rite of Blessing for the dead shall be performed with only a small congregation observing strictly the precautionary measures,” the bishop said.
Rapadas said the Diocese has decided on the suspension after a process of consultation with the clergy and health officers of the city and the province.
Iligan City has been placed under a state of calamity shortly after the announcement that the first patient in Mindanao confirmed to have COVID-19 was first admitted at the Adventist Medical Center here on March 3 until his transfer to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City on March 8.
The patient tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away Friday evening, March 13.
“It is observed that we cannot strictly comply with the prescribed precautionary measures because the required paraphernalia are no longer available in the market,” the bishop said, apparently referring to the shortage of supply of hand sanitizers, alcohol and masks, which are now hard to come by with the panic buying everywhere.
“We lack the capability to determine who are carriers of the virus. So the congregation, as well as our ministers, will only be exposed to greater risk of getting infected,” Rapadas stressed.
He said that should the crisis last until Holy Week, “we shall continue the Eucharist and liturgical celebrations of the Holy Week even in the absence of a congregation.” (Bobby TImonera / MindaNews)