LEGAZPI CITY---Three dioceses in the Bicol region have suspended all masses starting Friday, Mar. 13 until the suspension order is lifted as thousands of Bicolanos went back to their hometowns to avoid the travel lockdown in Metro Manila.
In Albay, Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi ordered all clergy to suspend all masses to protect the faithful from possible contamination of coronavirus disease or Covid-19 following the arrivals in Albay of the travellers from Metro Manila.
“Considering that people are now arriving from Manila and we don›t know if they are aware of the self-quarantine policy of Albay, thus might still come to church, thereby putting our faithful at risk, I hereby declare all masses starting this afternoon suspended indefinitely,” Baylon said.
The prelate urged the faithful to hear mass to be aired over the television and radio stations.
“Our faithful are enjoined to hear mass aired on the radio or TV and continue praying the Oratio Imperata for COVID-19, begging the Lord to save us from this deadly threat,” Baylon said.
The prelate issued a diocesan circular urging the clergy, religious and lay faithful to observe and keep in mind the 3Ps or Prayer, Precautions and do not Panic as the nation faces disaster due to the Covid-19.
During the Kapihan sa SM City Legazpi with Radio Veritas, Baylon said that the Diocese of Legazpi through its Social Action Center is closely working with the provincial government and health authorities to ensure that they are updated with necessary information that will help them craft guidelines in the conduct of church activities and regular worship period especially during the Lenten Season to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“As we continue to face this pandemic, let us observe and keep in our minds the 3P’s: Prayer, Precautions and do not Panic. We continue to pray for the scientists and medical experts who are looking for a cure for Covid-19 and ministering to the sick,’ he said.
“We remember always to pray also for the sick that they may recover their health soon. We pray for government officials especially the health authorities to have the competence, zeal and compassion in dealing with this medical emergency,” Baylon said.
The prelate also advised that the faithful should continue to pray the “Oratio Imperata”, and intensify prayers to seek divine protection and intervention against Covid-19.
“While we rely on the mercy of God, it is also important that we continue to observe practical precautionary measures. Our health authorities already emphasized how to keep a healthy lifestyle such as eating healthy food, getting enough rest and sleep to keep our body strong to resist infections,” the bishop said.
In Catanduanes province, the Diocese of Virac led by Bishop Manolo Delos Santos also suspended masses indefinitely.
“Masses are cancelled starting this afternoon anticipated mass (Mar. 13) until further notice. Sunday masses are dispensed. All masses are to be celebrated in private. The faithful are encouraged to pray and to follow the celebrations on TV or radio,” Fr. Allan Basilio of the Diocese of Virac said.
“The faithful may still offer their intentions through private masses. Priests are to celebrate private masses alone or with a server,” he said.
The Archdiocese of Nueva Cacere also issued a circular suspending masses temporarily on Mar. 14 to 20, 2020 due to Covid-19.